VALENCIA, Spain, June 3, 2010 – From now through the end of September, visitors to Valencia on Spain’s Mediterranean coast can view newly-restored Baroque treasures in three churches, which have themselves been restored to their former splendor. Part of a $13.5 million (11 million euro) project of The Light of Images Foundation which recovers the Valencian region’s artistic heritage, “Glory of the Baroque” showcases 307 pieces – many never before exhibited. A team of seven architects, six archaeologists and 133 art restorers carefully worked to restore 144 paintings, sculptures, textiles, gold work and documents. Many works are on loan from other churches, museums, monasteries and private collections, and highlights include paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Francisco Ribalta and José de Ribera.
After the Reconquista in 1238 when Valencia was conquered by the Christians, King James I had three parish churches built on the sites of Moorish mosques. The “Glory of the Baroque” exhibition is divided thematically between these three. San Esteban Protomartir houses a collection of Valencian Baroque paintings while San Martin Obispo is dedicated to Valencian sculpture and gold work from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. The devotion to the Virgin Mary is the theme at San Juan de La Cruz.
San Esteban was the first church constructed in Valencia after the Moors fled Valencia and was the original burial place of El Cid. Two never before exhibited paintings by Peter Paul Rubens as well as works by Jose de Ribera and Pablo Pontons are on view here. Additionally, murals over the altar have been restored as have newly-discovered frescos. The design for San Martin Obispo and its Renaissance-style half-dome vault is thought to have been inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. More than 160 figures were uncovered during restoration and visitors can view them up close from a temporary stairway. San Juan de la Cruz’s architecture exemplifies northern European Baroque styles and the Rococo. A never before exhibited painting “Virgin and Child with St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist” is on view, as well as an interpretation of the Virgin using oils on marble.
Visitors start the self-guided walking tour at the Almudín, a 16th century granary built over an old Moorish palace which houses an exhibition celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Light of Images Foundation and an audiovisual experience showcasing Valencia’s Baroque art. Then they exit and follow a “footpath” stenciled in Baroque design leading to the three churches.
Exhibition hours are from Tuesday through Sunday 10 AM to 9 PM (Saturdays and Sundays until 10 PM) and entry to the exhibition costs $3.70 (3 Euros.) For further information about the exhibition and the region of Valencia, contact Central Holidays.
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