Off the beaten track in Washington Heights is one of the greatest artistic treasures to be found in all New York City, one so stunning and dramatic that it instantly transports you to Spain.
Washington Heights is a sprawling neighborhood just south of where I live in Inwood, Manhattan. I recently explored it where I visited the Hispanic Society of America which maintains a research library and museum galleries. Its artistic holdings are extensive and include paintings, sculpture, and decorative art from Spain, Portugal, and South America. Even the approach to the museum is dramatic. It is located on Audubon Terrace, a complex of twelve large early 20th-century Beaux Arts buildings organized around a central courtyard with an entrance on Broadway between 155th and 156th streets. Sadly, the courtyard is in need of extensive restoration, yet it still stuns the visitor with one of the most impressive outdoor sculptural programs in all New York City, of which the dominating element is El Cid Campeador (1927) (see photo above). Like nearly all of the sculpture on Audubon Terrace, it was designed by Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, wife of Archer M. Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society of America.
But nothing prepared me for the principal artistic holding of the Hispanic Society: Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida’s Vision of Spain (completed 1919, first exhibited 1926). The stunning, dramatic series of fourteen monumental oil paintings, commissioned by Archer M. Huntington for the Hispanic Society and installed in their own spacious gallery, instantly transports you to Spain. Watch this brief video of Vision of Spain, then imagine something that is a hundred times better, and you will have a feeling for the experience.
To begin a virtual tour of Audubon Terrace and the Hispanic Society’s galleries, which includes additional images from Vision of Spain, click on the photo in the upper left-hand corner of the gallery. Alternatively, click on any photo that strikes your fancy.
How to get there.The Hispanic Society of America is located on Audubon Terrace at Broadway between 155th and 156th streets. To travel by subway, take the 1 train to 157th Street.