Sat. Oct 19th, 2019

The Casa de Coln opens an exhibition of Juan del Castillo Westerling – La Provincia


Multifaceted and tremendously restless in its cultural vocation, Juan del Castillo Westerling presents a unique profile in the context of art in the Canaries in the 19th century. Undoubtedly, his is one of the most complex and special personalities that illuminated the scene of the culture of his hometown, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The House of Columbus inaugurates the exhibition on July 16, at 8:00 p.m. Juan del Castillo Westerling. Criticism and satire in the 19th century, curated by the teacher Jonathan Allen, which focuses on his collection of cartoons that draw a particular window to the social universe of his time.

The exhibition will remain open to the public until September 1 with free admission, and may be visited from Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 9 pm, Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sundays and public holidays, from 10 am to 3 pm.

"Sometimes comic and mocking prints of dandies, aristocrats, public men, cupletists, tenors and ladies who walk in their carriages." The exhibition reveals the edges of contemporary society, the scrupulous detail of Juan del Castillo Westerling, his ability to synthesizing the personality traits, and their talent to fix in their moment and in their precise place the typology of an epoch offer us an exceptional diorama and in color of nineteenth-century Spain that complements the great Galdosian vision of that same convulsive and key period for the contemporary history of the nation, "says the curator of the show, Jonathan Allen.

Juan del Castillo Westerling (1831-1900) was a special artist: he worked as a painter and botanist, a collector and philanthropist, a genealogist and also a public man. His was a family of the elite of the moment, son of the room Conde de la Vega Grande de Guadalupe, Agustín del Castillo Béthencourt. He himself was a knight of the Order of Calatrava. An aristocrat inspired by the principles of enlightenment, he became one of the leaders of the Moderate Party in Gran Canaria (defender of the Bourbons cause) and in his representation held several public positions: he was vice president of the Provincial Council between 1872 and 1873, and three months Sub-Governor, in 1875.

However, his concern also extended to business and science, as well as culture. The quality of the dye of his samples of cochineal canary deserved, for example, a prize in the Universal Exhibition of Vienna of 1973, and motivated the commercial interest by its export to Europe. He also stood out for the closed greenhouse he built in his house-garden in Vegueta, and for his positioning in favor of the promotion of a Botanical Garden on the Island. He also promoted the value of the native palm (Phoenix canariensis).

As a painter, he completed his training in Madrid with Madrazo. There, in the capital, he demonstrated his talent for caricaturing the society of which other canaries like Benito Pérez Galdós, Felipe Pérez del Toro and Fernando de León y Castillo also participated.

The exhibition Juan del Castillo Westerling. Criticism and satire in the 19th century presents in the Casa de Colón until now unknown images for the Canarian public. In the 1850s the young Del Castillo Westerling began to draw some satirical drawings with the male and female characters that most impacted him. A motivation in the line of the critical currents of the Spanish modernity at that time. The public of the museum center of Vegueta will be able to contemplate a representative sample of these works.

In them, some of its protagonists are victims of ideologies of the past, knights who defend honor at all costs in those havoc that caused havoc. Others are professional politicians who tempt with deceptive offers. And others, dreamy gentlemen and lazy people absorbed in their dreams. The women in these drawings do not stand out because of their beauty, but because they are corseted within a society whose freedom men enjoy.

These cartoons come to light almost one hundred and sixty years after being drawn, to occupy the place they deserve within the history of the exercise of this genre in the Canary Islands. Behind her always emerges the signature of an author who, thanks to his position and his travels, could acquire a deep knowledge of the world of art in Europe. A collector who learned in the forums of France and Italy the circuit of the works and the operation of the business.

As a painter, he always paid tribute to his master Madrazo, focusing especially on the portrait (in which he came to stand out) and on the copy of classic icons.

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