Biography of Algur Hurtle Meadows (1899-1978)

Businessman, collector of art and American philanthropist born in Vidalia (Georgia) in 1899 at the family of a modest country doctor; He/She died in a traffic accident in 1978. He/She graduated in law at the Centenary College in Shreveport (Louisiana) and soon was especially skilled in the field of finances. Little by little, he/she was amassing a considerable fortune to be replaced by Advisor to small landowners with important oilfield; all them enriched them by the General American Oil Company, a payment which he/she founded in 1936 and, after his death, was absorbed by the Phillips Petroleum Company.

With his money, Meadows built several public buildings and, above all, bought a magnificent collection of paintings that went to the Meadows Museum; to this end, the Constitution of the Meadows Foundation was instrumental in 1948. With their transactions, it not only benefited several cultural institutions in the United States but also some Spanish; in fact, Meadows donated an adoration of the shepherds of Pedro Orrente in 1962 to the Santa Cruz Museum of Toledo, while the Prado Museum it facilitated the acquisition of the Vision of the Virgin by St. Bernard of Alonso Cano in 1967 (in addition, in Exchange for permission to export to the United States of a work of Carreño de Miranda had trocar a superb picture(: drinker, which turned out to be the work of José de Ribera, a loss that soured forever meadows).

The principle of the relationship of Meadows and Spain was in the contract that the Spanish Government signed with the General American Oil Company in the 1950s, allowing you to carry out any prospecting in search of oil. Although the result of the polls was absolutely destitute, Meadows provided the first foundations Spanish petroleum industry, would end up developing extraordinarily with the passage of time; This earned him the appointment of Knight Grand Cross of the order of the merit Civil in 1963. In addition, during his stays in Madrid, staying as it was at the Ritz Hotel, this rich patrons visiting daily the Prado Museum next to Virginia, his first wife, and finished falling hopelessly for the art of the great Spanish masters.

Determined to acquire Spanish painting, it was precisely the Restorer of the Prado, Jerónimo Seisdedos, who advised Meadows; on the death of this specialist, Bernardino de Pantorba was the one who took over. At that time, Meadows gained a superb quality pictures, from the collection of the Infanta Isabel de Borbón, daughter of Isabella II of Spain, with the signatures of José de Ribera , Juan Pantoja de la Cruzand Vicente López (the portrait of the Baron Mathieu de Faviers, of 1812); Unfortunately, and despite the help of the aforementioned specialists, Meadows took several pictures that were not what they promised, as he/she bought as Murillo, Ribera, El Grecoand Goya tables that were actually painted by lesser artists.

The main success was the acquisition of a very important collection of Spanish romantic, post-romantic, and turn painting at really low prices; in this set, are the names of Leonardo Alenza, Valeriano Bécquer, Joaquín Domínguez Bécquer, Antonio María Esquivel, Eugenio Lucas, Manuel Rodríguez de Guzmán, Joaquín Sorolla, José María Sert and Ignacio Zuloaga.

All of these works went to United States and formed the basis of which was soon a collection out of the ordinary, which first was in his own House and later, in 1962, was to stop at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas to honor the memory of Virginia, his wife, who died in 1961. To accommodate such masterpiece, Meadows had built which is now known as Meadows Museum, opened in 1965. His marriage to Elizabeth Boggs Bartholow in 1962 helped him to carry out new searches with destination to the aforementioned institution; However, he/she was born which should be considered truly a second collection, because his new wife felt special interest in French painting and contemporary art in general.

The persecution of these new pictures encouraged two French dealers, Fernand Legros and Réal Lessard, contact with the Meadows and offer their services. The result was the acquisition of forty-four paintings (supposedly from the workshops of Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, Chagall and other big) that mostly turned out to be forgeries of the now famous Elmyr de Hory. The knowledge of this fact meant a real international scandal that was picked up by the press from around the world in 1967, which led to uncover other so many transactions of identical nature and that ended with several lawsuits in the French courts that Meadows won consecutively.

At the end, the American Tycoon decided to continue taking pictures with the same tenacity, although now only he/she would go to the galleries more serious and reliable. Between 1967 and 1969, Meadows was undone in a public auction of what was less important in your collection, advised by the Professor of the University of New York (NYU) José Lopez-rey, by large specialist Diego angle Iñiguez, who at the time was the director of the Prado Museum, and the young William B. Jordan, that would be your primary guide until they died. Thanks to them, entered works by great artists, along with samples of the Renaissance and Baroque religious art as well as other rococo style. Many pictures and minor parts were up in deposits of the Meadows Museum, away from the public eye, where they are today.

During those years, acquiring masterpieces of Juan Carreño de Miranda (the magnificent martyrdom of St. Bartholomew), Murillo (the immaculate conception of Loja, which bought the Peruvian diplomat Fernando Berckemeyer), Zurbarán, Goya (Corral of fools of 1794, painted on Tin) and so many other geniuses of Spanish painting; towards the end of his life, still would come new pictures of Fernando Gallego (with a splendid Acacius and the 10,000 martyrs of Mount Ararat), Burgundy Juan Yáñez de la Almedina, Zurbarán, Velázquez (her Sibyl), José de Ribera, Murillo (their Santas Justa y Rufina), Antonio Moro (portrait de Alejandro Farnesio), Luis de Morales (with a pity), Valdés Leal, Claudio Coello, BayeuGoya, Fortuny, Juan Gris, Miró, Picasso (still life in a landscape, 1915) and many other Spanish artists. One of their latest acquisitions, shortly before the accident that cost him his life, was the portrait of the Queen Mariana of Austria of Velazquez, who bought from the wealthy Edmond de Rothschild.

After his death, is survived by the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the sculpture collection of the 20th century, donated to the same institution (with authors such as Rodinand Giacometti ), supported by the Meadows Foundation with the 800 million dollars that left him in legacy; In addition, we must consider the various donations made to the Fine Arts Museum in Dallas, where they were to stop the works of great masters of American painting of post-war as Franz Kline, Sam Francis, Morris Louis, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella and many other artists; This museum also came rich sample of pre-Columbian art which Meadows financed partially and make it the first collection of these characteristics of United States.

The Meadows Foundation offers several scholarships and the reputed Algur H. Meadows Award for excellence in the arts, which have gained artists such as Arthur Miller, Mstislav Rostropovich and Ingmar Bergman, among others. Altogether, the Meadows Museum, it has earned the name that many give "El Prado of Texas". There is also a The Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College of Louisiana, where he/she himself studied. Founded in 1975, this second Meadows Museum contains a magnificent collection of the French artist Jean Despujols (acquired by philanthropist in 1969). Since that date, the Museum has grown significantly and has more than a thousand works of art from different periods and cultures. Between the Spanish pieces acquired after the death of this philanthropist, there is an adoration of the shepherds of Juan Bautista Maino (purchased in 1994) and a San Francisco knelt in prayer of El Greco (in 2000).

In spring of 2000, part of the collection of Spanish art of the Meadows Museum (a total of 27 of the total of approximately five hundred of which consists) was exhibited in Spain, welcomed by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. In September of that year, the collection was on display at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. On March 30, 2001, SS. Mm. los Reyes of Spain, don Juan Carlos and Doña Sofia inaugurated the new Meadows Museum, built by the architect Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge at the entrance of the campus (to that end, the Meadows Foundation had intended in 1997 and a half million dollars for the initial project; in 1998, they went 18' $ 5 million to the construction of the new headquarters of the Museum). That solemn occasion was accompanied by others, as the ceremony in which the monarch received a doctorate honoris causa by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Southern Methodist University; In addition, prepared an exhibition retrospective of the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, with its source for the Meadows Museum project; also, the entrance of the Centre was discovered a statue of don Juan Carlos sculpted by Miguel Zapata; the same was done with plate giving the name of Doña Sofia to the entrance to the Museum room. The number of pieces of Spanish art of all time described comes to 670.



W. B. Jordan, "Algur Meadows: a personal remembrance", Goya. Magazine of art, 273 (1999), pp. 343-352.

Links on the Internet; Website of the Museum Meadows of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas (Texas).; Website of the Museum Meadows of the Centenary College from Shereveport (Louisiana).