From the walls of the Fabiola House in Seville, canvases by García Ramos, Sánchez Perrier and Gonzalo Bilbao have been hanging since Thursday. Its rooms have become a pinacoteca that gathers almost 300 works focused on the Sevillian painting of the 19th century. This property, located in the neighborhood of Santa Cruz and typologically responds to a large Sevillian courtyard house of the sixteenth century with reforms until the early twentieth, has been transformed into the museum that the art collector Mariano Bellver He has fought for almost two decades, when he decided to donate his treasures. The Casa Fabiola-Donación Mariano Bellver project opens its doors this Thursday with an eclectic collection – the largest in Sevillian costumbrismo – of more than 560 works from the 16th and 20th centuries valued at 14 million euros. In addition to paintings, it gathers a large number of carvings, ivories, ceramics, clocks, furniture, Neapolitan nativity scenes and other objects of decorative art.
A walk through the premises of the house where Nicholas Wiseman was born, the first cardinal archbishop of Westminster, immerses the visitor in a journey through the evolution of Sevillian painting of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition to the artists already mentioned, the collection is completed by works by García and Rodríguez, Domínguez Bécquer, López Cabrera, Cabral Bejarano, Pinelo Llull and Gutiérrez de la Vega. Along with these, Bellver's hobby is also discovered for works by Spanish and foreign painters who have dealt with Andalusian themes. Thus, canvases by Pharamond Blanchard, Worms and John Phillips can be seen. "Bellver has always made it clear that he was not trying to form the collection of a museum, but that of a private individual who acquires what seems pleasant and typical of a house, in which the presence of tradition is a constant and a reference" , explains the curator of the exhibition, Carlos Cano.
The collection is distributed in 13 permanent rooms that occupy the two floors of the building. To these is added a temporary room. Cano explained that the works are organized in six areas ranging from Romantic painting in Seville (1830 and 1860) Y Sevillian painters in Rome and Paris (1870-1895) until The landscape in the Sevillian school Y The constant of costumbrismo. The other two areas are Religious art Y The sculpture.
Bellver sees today a dream that began almost two decades ago and has been plagued by stumbling blocks. "Imagine the satisfaction I feel, there have been many years of waiting, work and insistence. Of course, I deserved it had been before", the collector complains at his 92 years. He and his wife Dolores Mejías decided in 2000 to donate the collection that they had been treasuring since the sixties. But it was not until 2015 when the couple signed the agreement with the City Council of the Andalusian capital. During those years, tired of dealing with public and private institutions, Bellver recognizes that he even thought about auctioning the collection and donating the box to charities. "It was a birth of 15 years, but despite the difficulties, I have maintained the illusion during all this time, the illusion that the Sevillians could enjoy these works, although it is not the same to be a father in the 80s, right? ", it states. The space will be open to the public from this Friday from Tuesday to Sunday from 11.00 to 20.00 with an entry price of three euros (free for Sevillians).
The donation of Bellver, who made his fortune in the fifties with the purchase and sale of real estate, consists of 567 works. To the 299 canvases, there are 112 polychrome and clay sculptures between the 16th and 20th centuries; 57 figures in ivory and bone; 44 furniture, 42 pieces of porcelain and ceramics; and 13 watches. Sculpture is the artistic activity that incorporated later to a collection acquired from individuals, in national and international auctions and in antiquarians around the world. Among the types of exposed carvings, the Jesus Children stand out in number and quality, an iconography widespread in Seville and for which his wife feels special predilection. Also on display are works by his grandfather, the sculptor Ricardo Bellver, from whom he has collected various works, models and sketches on paper, as well as emptied of works. Of this last type, the work stands out The fallen angel, installed in the Retiro park in Madrid. Among the oldest works, Cano points out, there is a 16th century altarpiece and the carving of the Virgin of the artichoke, from the same era. As for furniture and ceramics, the commissioner explains, most of it was purchased for domestic use. "Sevilla wins a new exhibition space with works of enormous value and fulfills a commitment that had been pending for many years with Bellver," says the mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas (PSOE).
At first, the donation protocol signed with the Consistory included the commitment that the collection be exhibited in the Royal Pavilion, building of Aníbal González and legacy of the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. However, and alleging technical aspects and deadlines, the City chose to do so in the house known as Fabiola House, then rented as the seat of the municipal area of Finance. The Consistory bought the property for 4.5 million euros in November 2016 and has invested almost another million in its adaptation, according to municipal sources. "It's a better location, but there are still missing walls, walls, to house my entire collection," says the collector. After postponing its opening several times, this Thursday Bellver has seen his wish fulfilled, in part.