Thursday, May 24, 2018

Museo de Bellas Artes in Seville & Bartolomé Murillo

Housed in the beautiful former Convento de la Merced, Seville's Fine Arts Museum provides an elegant showcase for a comprehensive collection of Spanish and Sevillan paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, including a choice selection of works by artists from the Golden Age of Sevillian painting during the 17th century, such as Murillo, Zurbarán, Francisco de Herrera the younger, and Valdés Leal. The building itself was built in 1594, but the museum was founded in 1839, after the desamortizacion or shuttering of religious monasteries and convents, collecting works from across the city and region. The convent was built around a series of lovely leafy courtyards which were incorporated into the redesign of the art museum in 1839. Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the birth of Bartolome Esteban Murillo who was one of the most famous painters from Seville, there is a church at the far end of the museum which today serves as a gallery devoted to some of the artists outstanding works, in addition to a special exhibition entitled 'Murillo y los Capuchinos de Sevilla', a unique gathering of his famed Capuchin altarpiece of five outstanding paintings he created for the Capuchin Convent of Seville.

Claustro de los Bojes, the beautiful Tuscan courtyard that was one of the convent's courtyards incorporated into the redesign of the art museum in 1839

A lush garden of beautiful trees and gurgling fountains, 
the Museo courtyards are a lovely tranquil place to sit and relax

Fragrant orange blossoms

Blooming Natal Lillies

Detail of carved wooden door leading from the convent courtyard

Interior of the Museo de Bellas Artes

There were groups of young children being introduced to art in every museum we went to in Spain, which is an enormously positive trend but a tad noisy

'La Purificación' by Luis de Vargas, 1560

'Immaculada' by Juan de Valdes Leal, 1672

'Virgen con il Nino' by Francisco Pisano, 1529

Entrance to the 'Murillo y los Capuchinos de Sevilla' exhibition in the former convent Mercedario Church

Immaculate Conception of the Choir, 'The Girl', by Murillo 1668

'Ascension of the Virgin' by Murillo, 1634

'Immaculate Conception' by Murillo, 1652

'Immaculada' by Murillo, 1675

The Murillo Exhibition at the Museo

Collection of Murillo paintings in the convent's former church, 
with its impressive soaring vaulted ceiling

18th-century Sevillan Piano by Mirabal

'Retrato de Gustavo Adolfo Becquer' by Valeriano Becquer, 1862

'Pareja de Baile Sevillana' by José Garcia Ramos, 1885

Bilbao Martínez’s career reached its peak in 1915 with the painting Las cigarreras en la Fábrica de Tabacos de Sevilla - “Cigarette Girls at the Seville Tobacco Manufactory”

Detail of 'Las Ciggareros', by Gonzalo Bilbao Martinez, 1915

'Sevillano en su Patio' by Diego Lopez, 1918

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ConTenedor: Market Fresh Slow Food in Seville

Market-fresh Mediterranean cuisine tucked into the hip, bohemian La Alameda neighborhood just a few minutes from the heart of downtown Seville, ConTenedor began as a weekly pop-up and is now one of the hottest restaurants in the city. With a focus on slow food, sourced locally Andalusian-inspired dishes, chef and co-owner Ignacio Llinares writes up the chalkboard menu each day depending on what he's found that's fresh at the market, farms and suppliers that morning, choosing the most organic, fresh and well-sourced products from Andalucía and beyond: organic fruits and vegetables from Orchard´Tatiana; seasonal fish from Huelva and Cadiz; beef and deer from the Sierra Norte, Galicia and Retinto; with fresh pasta, paté and desserts made by hand each day in the restaurant. Said to be a favourite of Spanish celebrity tennis god Rafael Nadal as well as countless local young professionals, ConTenedor is like a creative art space with polished concrete floors, exposed air ducts, mismatched furniture and paintings on every wall by local artist and co-owner Ricardo Llinares. Indeed, incubating culture is a part of their philosophy, with music every Tuesday night, which we were fortunate to experience the evening we arrived for dinner. 

This slow-food restaurant in the boho Macarena district prides itself on using local, organic produce

The menu changes according to the season, the market and the inspiration of chef Carlos Michell

The vibe is arty and relaxed, with an open kitchen, mismatched furniture and colourful contemporary paintings by co-owner Ricardo 

The quirky interior of ConTenedor is a hip mélange of mismatched furniture and fixtures

Colourful contemporary painting by co-owner Ricardo 

Beautiful fresh green Chrysanthemums

The wooden wine menu

Montsant Artesà Brut sparkling Spanish Cava

Garlic infused local olives 

The menu, which changes daily, according to what’s at its peak of freshness at the local markets and farms, is presented in alternating colors on a large chalkboard

ConTenedor began as a weekly pop-up; now it’s one of the city’s buzziest restaurants, with a focus on slow food, sourced locally, and reinvented Andalucían dishes

The chalkboard menu of daily changing dishes is propped up on a weathered chair and explained with enormous passion, dish by dish, by our enthusiastic server

Castro Valdés Albariño from Rias Baixas

A richly flavoured and textured Albariño, my favourite Spanish white

Housemade Paté of duck foie gras and Iberico acorn-fed Jamón

House baked fresh bread and toast for the paté

Ensalada de Huerta 100% Ecologia: Organic Garden Salad with raw pumpkin, beets and peppers

Every Tuesday night there is live music at ConTenedor, be it jazz, blues or soul, offering guests an experience that nourishes the palate and the soul

Supporting local artists is important to the owners, who also sponsor art exhibitions, 
films and talks at the restaurant

Raw and Grilled Boletus and Shiitake mushrooms with Ajoblanco, 
cream of toasted cherimoya and mustard leaves

Handmade Cannelloni with golden thistle and Iberico Jamon, seasonal mushrooms, 
curly Kale and cream of cauliflower

An after-dinner glass of Palo Cortado, a Palamino fino sherry similar to an Amontillado