From 25th March until 16th July 2017, the “PRADO 12 Characters” Exhibition – twelve masterpieces by world famous artists, which have brought joy to millions of viewers over the centuries at Spain’s largest museum, the PRADO, were on view for the first time in the Baltic region at Art Museum RIGA BOURSE. It became the most visited exhibition in a history of RIGA BOURSE and the most visited exhibition in Latvia in 2017.

The people of Rīga and visitors to the city had the opportunity to see portraits of females created by Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), Francisco de Goya (1746–1828) and other artists.

The exhibition from the PRADO collection was the special gift for Latvia’s centenary from philanthropists Boris and Ināra Teterev. The patroness for the exhibition - the former President of Latvia and President of the Club de Madrid, Vaira Vīķe- Freiberga.

Frans Pourbus the younger (1569–1622). Isabelle of France. The Queen of Spain (1615). From the collection of PRADO.

The “PRADO 12 Characters” Exhibition of masterpieces from the 16th to 19th centuries revealed the history and the character of the collection in a concentrated form, where Spanish art undoubtedly dominated with its expressive colour and forms, enriched by the presence of the French, Italian, and Flemish cultural space. At the same time these twelve characters were revealed in a very feminine form, as the exhibition is made up of twelve portraits of females or genre paintings with a religious and allegorical character. The portraits revealed the broad opportunities for the theme’s interpretation, the social position of the portrayed person, or show the female as a symbol of power, elegance, beauty, motherliness, piety or frivolity. These contrasts and similarities weaved through the centuries, each coming with a different ideal of beauty or fashion and an understanding of attitudes to the enjoyment of life as opposed to morality. At the same time, the opportunity was available in the “PRADO 12 Characters” Exhibition, to see the diversity of the styles of art in the collection, starting from high renaissance, colourfully revealing the Spanish and Flemish baroque period and rococo, and then moving on right up to examples of 19th century realism.   

The “PRADO 12 Characters” became the most extensive joint project between the Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation and the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE, which continued their fruitful collaboration in the creation of “Riga’s Gondola” (2012), the “Magnetism of Provence” Exhibition dedicated to French culture (2015) and events in various forms within Boris and Ināra Teterev’s TÊTE-À-TÊTE Art Programme.

Spain’s largest museum, the PRADO, which celebrates its Bicentenary in 2019, is one of Europe’s richest and most famous repositories of art, which was developed on the basis of the Royal Household Collection. Initially, the PRADO was created as a national art museum on the initiative of King Ferdinand VII, but over time, some outstanding works from other Western European schools were added to this collection of Spanish art.