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Event Item: 00067
Legacy: Spain and the United States in the Age of Independence, 1763-1848
Exhibition: 27th Sep 2007 to 10th Feb 2008
The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Latino Center, together with the Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior and the Fundación Consejo España-Estados Unidos, present the exhibition "Legacy: Spain and the United States in the Age of Independence, 1763-1848," which examines the story of Spain's role in the history of the United States. Although it is widely known that France was a key partner in the fight for American independence from Britain, few are aware that independence was only possible with the financial and military support of Spain.

The exhibition begins in 1763 when the Treaty of Paris was signed and continues through 1848 when California was ceded to the United States from Mexico. The political and geographic changes that happened during the 85-year period covered by this exhibition still reverberate in American culture today.

"At the heart of the National Portrait Gallery is our goal to ensure that the country remembers its past," said Marc Pachter, director of the Portrait Gallery. "The aptly named exhibition 'Legacy' explores the role of Spain and Mexico in the development of this nation with that goal in mind." The exhibition brings together stunning portraits and compelling original documents to explore Spain's role in the American Revolutionary War and the development of the United States. It begins in 1763when the Treaty of Paris was signed and Spain controlled approximately one-half of the land that is now part of the United Statesand continues through 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed to end the Mexican-American War. The exhibition also will illustrate the social, cultural and political influence of Hispanic culture through 1848.

"This exhibition invites people to immerse themselves in this era and learn more about Spain's key role in the Revolution and the early days of the American republic through extraordinary portraits, original treaties and maps," said Carolyn Kinder Carr, deputy director of the National Portrait Gallery and "Legacy" exhibition co-curator. "The political and geographic changes that happened during this 85-year period still reverberate in American culture today." Some of the individuals represented by renowned artists include names familiar to the American story: "George Washington" by Charles Willson Peale, "Benjamin Franklin" by Joseph Siffred Duplessis and "Davy Crockett" by Chester Harding. But the exhibition also demonstrates the connections between these Americans and political figures in Spain during the American Revolution and later the individuals, both Americans and individuals of Hispanic descent, who led Florida, Louisiana, the Upper Mississippi, California and the southwest. For example, three men who determined Spain's foreign policy during the time of the American Revolution were King Carlos III, who is portrayed by court painter Anton Raphael Mengs; José Moñino, the Count of Floridablanca, who was prime minister and is portrayed by Folch de Cardona; and Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, the Count of Aranda, who was a longtime champion of the American cause and was painted by Ramón Bayeu, brother-in-law to the famed Francisco de Goya. The exhibition includes five portraits by Goya: those of the Conde de Cabarrús, King Carlos IV of Spain, Felix Colón de Larriategui, King Ferdinand VII of Spain and el general don José de Urrutia.

"Few Americans realize that Hispanics have played an important role in our country since its founding," said Pilar O'Leary, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center. "The fact that Hispanic- Americans fought alongside Anglo-Americans to help obtain independence from Britain, for example, is not often taught in U.S. classrooms or history books today. This exhibition will raise public awareness of the historical role and roots of Hispanic-Americans in U.S. society."

The Smithsonian, National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F Streets, Washington, D.C., 20001
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