One of the main objectives of the Foundation is to promote culture in its many artistic and scientific manifestations, addressing primarily need to preserve, disseminate and advance the historical and cultural heritage of Seville -the city where Abengoa’s headquarters and the Focus-Abengoa Foundation are located- while also enhancing international exposure of the city.

Hospital de los Venerables

The Hospital de los Venerables, the Foundation headquarters, is located in the heart of the emblematic neighborhood of Santa Cruz in Seville, and today represents one of the most fascinating fully preserved examples of Baroque architecture in Seville from the second half of the 17th century.

In 1987, the Archbishopric of Seville, the Hermandad de los Venerables brotherhood and the Focus-Abengoa Foundation signed an agreement to make the building the foundation’s headquarters.

The agreement requires the Focus-Abengoa Foundation to restore and maintain the historic building, and the Foundation, fully aware of the value and significance of the building, has always made great efforts to respect its exterior and interior design and layout. The aim of recovering this building was to give back to Spanish society a work of art that serves as a platform for pursuing valuable cultural and educational endeavors.

The Focus-Abengoa collection. Painting and graphic works

This collection is composed of 191 works that are the product of the Foundation initiatives, among which are the painting prize, monographic exhibitions promoted by prominent representatives of the current artistic scene, several proprietary acquisitions and donations.


Antonio López, “Membrillero”, 1990, oil on canvas

This grouping of works of art features a wide variety of styles, schools and circles, ranging from rigorous objectivity more or less tinged with lyricism, to dramatic or abstract expressionism and maximal geometric abstraction. In short, all of the painting styles of the second half of the 20th century are represented in varying degrees of ambition and success.

Each year the depth of this collection is enhanced by the prizewinning works from the different editions of the painting prize, and through the acquisition of works selected through the award.

In September 2009, most of the painting and contemporary graphic arts collection was transferred to the Palmas Altas Campus, Abengoa’s new headquarters.

The Diego Velázquez Research Center

The Diego Velázquez Research Center was created as the result of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation’s acquisition of his “Santa Rufina” for the city of Seville, and responds to the need for a place of research, dissemination and reflection around the beginnings and consequences of the Sevillian painter’s works. Until now, representation of his painting and legacy were wanting, and, in order to palliate this lack, the Focus-Abengoa Foundation and the City of Seville decided to join forces on the path towards a common objective, in which the greatest benefits are to be reaped from the very city where the artist began his training.

Permanent Collection

Since the 2008 unveiling of the Velázquez Center Permanent Collection, the Foundation has continued its unrelenting efforts to research, raise awareness of and reflect on the works of the Sevillian painter. Within the framework of activities, noteworthy are the seminars held on the works that make up this permanent collection. On this particular occasion, the May 2009 symposium centered on “Vista de Sevilla” (A View of Seville), an anonymous 17th century work. The focus was the importance of the painting from the historical, urban, artistic, aesthetic, social, literary and anthropological perspective.

The exhibition is composed of sixteen masterpieces, all of which were chosen with a clear didactic and scientific purpose from different institutions, including the Prado Museum, the Archbishopric of Seville, the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias, the Selgas Fagalde Foundation, the City Council of Seville, and private collections and others belonging to the Focus-Abengoa Foundation.

In 2009, the Focus-Abengoa Foundation added two further masterpieces from the same period as the Sevillian painter to the “Velázquez Center” Permanent Collection: “Inmaculada Concepción”, attributed by some to Alonso Cano and by others to Diego Velázquez, and Murillo’s “Santa Catalina”.

Educational Program

University of Seville students and Art History degree holders collaborate by conducting guided tours for elementary and secondary schools, senior citizens’ centers, etc.

These tours are part of the Focus-Abengoa policy of promoting culture within the area of Seville, providing a unique opportunity for training and work experience.

For the school-aged audience, specific teaching materials have been developed, adapting them to the different learning stages. The activities in question bring participants closer to the history of art, while raising their understanding. They can be downloaded from the Foundation website.

Closing Ceremony of the Temporary Exhibition “Recovering Classical Antiquity in Andalusia

The Focus-Abengoa Foundation and its commitment to culture and artistic heritage led to the Recovering Roman Bética project aimed at research and dissemination of Andalusian archeological heritage through different yet complementary perspectives: the publication of the Roman Bética Art trilogy; the archeological research project on Roman sites found in Sanlúcar la Mayor,where Abengoa erected its solar complex; and the Recovering Classical Antiquity in Andalusia exhibition which came to a close on February 28, 2009. The collection was commissioned by Fernando Amores Carredano and José Beltrán Fortes, professors of Archeology at the University of Seville; historian and artist Juan F. Lacomba; and Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez, honorary director of the Prado Museum and member of Spain’s Royal Academy of History.

More than 25,000 people visited the exhibit, enjoying the opportunity to contemplate masterpieces of Andalusian Roman sculpture, examples of which include the Venus Italica (2nd century AD) and the Ephebe of Antequera (1st century AD), as well as the relief of the Battle of Actium.

Sevillian Topics Library

Following restoration of the Foundation’s current headquarters, the bibliographical heritage amassed by the Foundation since it created the Library on Seville in 1981 was transferred to what was the former refectory and chapter house of the Hospital de los Venerables. Here over six thousand volumes dating from the 16th century to today are housed, all of which share a common element: they either deal with the history of Seville and its medieval kingdom or are works by Sevillian authors. Every year, the library is enriched through new acquisitions of documents and books. The library, which is open to researchers and scholars, extended access to its volumes by launching its Biblio 3000 Internet application, which enables the conveyance and dissemination of this rich cultural heritage.

Room of Engravings

The Foundation, which, since its creation in 1982, has boasted a large number of prints and etchings, decided that this delicate heritage of graphic art required facilities that would ensure both their preservation and their utility for scientific research. Therefore, aware of the significance of the engravings, the Foundation sought the collaboration in 1996 of the Director of National Engravings at the time, Juan Carrete Parrondo, who, together with Jesusa Vega and Gloria Solache, carried out the scientific task of preserving, mounting and cataloguing the close to three hundred engravings gathered together by Focus-Abengoa.

Case Study
“Inmaculada Concepción”, Alonso Cano-Diego Velázquez, h. 1618-1620

On February 11 in Seville, the Focus-Abengoa Foundation unveiled the work entitled “Inmaculada Concepción”, attributed to Alonso Cano by Professor Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez, and to Diego de Velázquez by professor Jonathan Brown, but which will be added to the “Diego Velázquez Research Center”.


The first news of the “Inmaculada Concepción”, before it turned up in the London art market on July 6, 1994, had come four years earlier, on June 22, 1990 to be precise, when it appeared in the hands of the Ader Picard Tajan auction house at an auction held at the George V Hotel in Paris.

From the moment the work appeared, the press reported a series of statements from a variety of experts agreeing or disagreeing with the accreditation to Velázquez or Alonso Cano. The most authoritative of them to refute attribution of the work to Velázquez was Professor Alfonso E. Pérez Sanchez, who acknowledged the significance of the work, but who was convinced that it should be attributed to the artist Alonso Cano, one of Velázquez’s fellow students.

In statements to the “El País” newspaper on June 9, 1994, he claimed, “Velázquez and Cano were disciples of Pacheco at the same time in Seville and this work no doubt comes from this school at such a time. The two young painters shared everything, even the same pots of paint and brushes. However, I am convinced that this “Inmaculada Concepción” was painted by Cano because it closely resembles the figure, composition and use of color of the other representations of the Immaculate Conception painted by Cano over the course of his lifetime, including his sculptures on the same theme, more so than those done by Velázquez”. These statements were elaborated upon years later by the author in the scientific article: Novedades Velazqueñas, in the Spanish Art Archive, 288, pp. 386-390, fig. 13, in which he explained his reasons for attributing the work to Alonso Cano.

Professor Jonathan Brown, on the other hand, was inclined to believe that the original artist was a young Velázquez, painted in Seville during his formative years between 1616 and 1618. According to Brown: “This is a genuine work of Velázquez, and I do not see Alonso Cano”, in statements he made to El País on June 9, 1994. Professor Brown has never published any scientific conclusions to this effect. In turn, Pérez Sánchez himself has always acknowledged the significance of the painting, regardless of who it is attributed to, stating: “This is a painting that could interest the Prado because it represents the workings between two eras and two key artists in Spanish painting”.

Given the importance and quality of the work, as well as the arguments of several art historians, “Inmaculada Concepción” undoubtedly falls within the aims and purposes of the Diego Velázquez Research Center. Among these reasons are the following:

  • It is a unique example within the context of Sevillian painting at the time.
  • It was painted in Seville between 1618 and 1620, within the scope of Francisco Pacheo, and at the heart of the debate surrounding “Inmaculada Concepción”, taking into account the outstanding example by Velázquez at the National Gallery in London.
  • Its unquestionable connection with Velázquez in the use of pigments and technique.
  • The lack of representative works of Alonso Cano from that time.
  • As a testament to the interaction between painting and sculpture, by corroborating the influence of sculpture at that time by Juan Martínez Montañés and Alonso Cano, on the painting.

In 1997, Pérez Sánchez argued his case that it was a key work in the training of Cano and Velázquez with Pacheco in Seville regarding the treatment of figures – staunchly vertical in Velázquez’s case, and noticeably spindle-shaped by Cano – through the use of clothing and the arrangement of the hands that is prevalent throughout his career and which, curiously, draws parallels with Francisco de Herrera “the elder”, who used similar figures in one of his Immaculate Conceptions.

As far as the provenance of the work is concerned, it is likely that it comes from the collection of the Dean of the Cathedral of Seville, López Cepero (1778-1858), whose collection inventory cites two works by Velázquez : “Imposición de la casulla a san Ildefonso”, and number 172 is the La Concepción, not the one at London’s National Gallery, which came from the Carmen Calzado, for it had already been sold years earlier in 1809-1810 together with “San Juan en Patmos” to Bartholomew Frere, plenipotentiary minister of England.

It is quite feasible that the inventory of Dean López Cepero refers to the painting acquired now, rescued for the city in which it was painted. In support of this theory, we know that at a later date these two works, which will now be reunited at the Velázquez Center, were once again paired up in the descriptions and valuations of the Dean’s paintings in the following way: “118. A painting two rods high and one and a half rods wide, original from the life of Velázquez, a bit deteriorated, representing Our Lady with a choir or virgins presenting the chasuble to St. Ildefonso… 19,000 reales” and number 119, “a Conception of the same size, with little difference and by the same artist, in good condition… 10,000 reales”.

This is the root of the importance and significance of its incorporation into the Velázquez Center: its unquestionable Sevillian origin and the lack of points of reference from this fundamental period in the history of European painting.

Benito Navarrete, scientific advisor to the Diego Velázquez Research Center.

Hitos 20092009 Milestones
  • Acquisition of the Alonso Cano – Diego Velázquez “Inmaculada Concepción”.
  • Acquisition of Murillo’s “Santa Catalina”.
  • Symposium held on “Vista de Sevilla”, a 17th century anonymous work
  • Educational program.
  • 1st Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez International Research Prize: “Velázquez and his century”, awarded to Marta Cacho Casal.
  • Andalusian Roman Art.
  • Closing ceremony of the temporary “Recovering Classical Antiquity in Andalusia” exhibition.
  • “From Earth to the Sun” archeological-technological project development.
  • 2009 Focus-Abengoa Painting Prize awarded to Emilio González Sainz for his work entitled “Paisaje de costa con un vagabundo”.
  • 2009 New Organist Promotional Concert Series.
  • 2009 Master Concert Series.
  • 2009 Saint Ferdinand Feast Day Concert Mass and Master Concert.

One of the main objectives of the Foundation is to promote culture in its many artistic and scientific manifestations