In this lucid, witty book, the eminent art historian Jonathan Brown examines links between his personal life and his study of Hispanic art of the Golden Age. His adventures are offered as a model for understanding how art history is shaped by life experiences, and he describes the influence of his parents, Jean and Leonard Brown, noted collectors of documentation of 20th-century avant-garde movements.His turn to research on the Golden Age of Spanish art was motivated by a year in Madrid, 1958-59. Art history in Spain was modeled on the policies of the Franco regime, and Brown sought to find different ways to interpret Spanish painting. His approach is demonstrated by fresh insight into painters, including Velazquez. A new interpretation of Las Meninas is proposed and the perils of attribution are examined. Later in his career, Brown began to study the transformation of Spanish art in the Americas.
The book originated as a series of six lectures delivered at the Museo Nacional del Prado in 2012.