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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en la Hispanic Society of America

EE.UU.(Nueva York), 04.12.2001

I

n this unique city of New York, the undisputed capital of the world, it is still impossible to share a few words -either in public or in private- ignoring the infamy of the terrorist attack that took thousands of innocent lives at the World Trade Center. The disappearance of the Twin Towers is much more than a physical loss; it is also a shattering reminder of how frail human reason can be. Unfortunately, we Spaniards know very well the painful meaning of the word terrorism. And therefore Spain immediately expressed its uncompromising solidarity with the United States in the international struggle against it. We also know that the most effective reaction against the murderous insanity of terrorism lies in fully upholding the values of contemporary human kind and defending our unconditional right to a tolerant, diverse and civilized world in peace. The American people are not alone in this, and our common determination is a guarantee of success in a fight that is ultimately everybody?s fight.

The celebration of life and beauty is, on the other hand, one of the best antidotes against lunacy and violence. So it is extremely befitting that today we have all decided to get together under the roof of the Hispanic Society of America, one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in New York. For us, Spaniards, this Foundation, the brainchild of Archer Milton Huntington, has a profound fascination. Most other museums and libraries in the city possess a wealth of paintings, sculptures, maps or books that are the creation of Spanish artists, writers and minds. We see that Grecos, Zurbarans, Velaquez, Goyas, are all over the city?s museums. Yet not one of them?it could not possibly be so- is exclusively or even predominantly concerned with the creative genius of Spain like this one? with a fair representation of Portugal, Latin countries of America and the Philippines. This is a unique characteristic of the Hispanic Society, a museum that Huntington liked to describe as a love poem to the Spanish people. It is only natural that Jonathan Brown, the most learned scholar on the Spanish Golden Age, in his essay introducing the new year 2000 Catalogue, would call the Society?an encyclopedic repository of Spanish visual and literary culture?.

I am myself quite astonished by the quality and quantity of the masterworks that can be enjoyed in this shall me call?Spanish Museum? of New York. It is always a renewed and immense pleasure to look at Velazquez´s portrait of a Little Girl, or Goya´s rendition of the Duchess of Alba, or walk through the incredible collection of XIX and XX century paintings, including Sorolla´s excellent portrait of Tiffany, or checking on the new acquisitions on ceramics. And I can hardly keep my jaw form dropping when reviewing the statistics of its contents as Director Mitchell Codding and trustee George Moore have just done.

I must say, it is rather overwhelming to realize that right here and now we are accompanied by close to 1.000 paintings -from late middle ages to modern times- thousands of sculptures, watercolours, drawings, objects or pieces belonging to the decorative arts astonishing collection -ceramic, furniture, jewellery, textiles, glass? and so on!.

Equally impressive is to know that in the library you can consult 200.000 manuscripts plus 250.000 books and periodicals?15.000 printed before 1701; or view a collection of 175.000 photographs, coupled with a no less extraordinary collection of cartography. This includes the first graphic clue?dated as early as the beginning of the XVI century- to the fact that planet earth was to evolve into a global world, we can see that in i.e. Americo Vespucci´s 1526 map, that in all its ancient splendour is beautifully preserved, one among the most outstanding possessions of the Hispanic Society. Please pardon me for exhausting you all with such detail but I find all this truly remarkable; more so, I think Spaniards should know more about it and feel proud to see how our Art and History are appreciated in New York.

It is no wonder that Spaniards and American citizens alike are attracted to this unique concentration of the collective memory of Spanish genius, surely the most comprehensive that exists outside our country. And therefore it is not surprising that on all their visits to New York, member or my family have consistently paid visits to the Society while in the city.

My presence here, today, is also linked to a very significant future event: the Hispanic Society of America is about to celebrate -in year 2004- its first 100th anniversary. A century is a very respectable and suggestive figure. All birthdays are indeed a reason to celebrate, more so when we reach such age in good health; But this one demands of course a very special celebration that only a centennial can deserve. I am sure that the Board of Trustees will figure out the right kind of event, ceremony, or party, to be held both in New York and in Spain. If in New York, I will be most pleased to attend and be a birthday party witness. In Spain, if you allow me to look into the crystal ball, we could perhaps hope for an anthological exposition, something really extraordinary, to mark the 100 anniversary of Archer Huntington?s legacy. The popular success would be assured, if we are to judge by those expositions already staged by the Society in Madrid, Coruña, Bilbao, Sevilla, Valencia? and it would no doubt become an event to be remembered for many years to come.

Let me conclude by publicly stating my warmest congratulations on the new Catalogue of the Society, very appropriately called Tesoros. The contents of the Huntington collection are a real treasure, but the splendid edition of this catalogue, the quality of its essays and the perfection of the colour plates, make it also a treasure in itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen, surrounded by Sorolla´s marvellous depiction of the colourful variety of Spanish lands and people, I considered myself fortunate to be celebrating with you all, ahead of time, the centennial strength and richness of the Hispanic Society of America in this marvellously serene, determined and courageous city of New York .

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