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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Goodbye to a Great Museum Director and Spanish-Art Scholar, Mark Roglán

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Francisco Álvarez Barreiro (before 1685-after 1730), Plano corographico e hidrografico de las Provincias Internas de Nueva Espana. Mexico City or Nuevas Filipinas (Texas), 1728. Manuscript map in ink and colored wash on parchment. (Photo courtesy the Grolier Club) He’d love the Grolier Club’s show of rare treasures from the Hispanic Society’s library.

It’s a sad, inscrutable coincidence that I visited the Hispanic Society’s rare-book show at the Grolier Club in New York earlier this week. My dear friend, Mark Roglán, director of the all-Spanish Meadows Museum in Dallas, died on Tuesday at 50, of cancer. Mark was a distinguished scholar of Spanish art, knew the Hispanic Society thoroughly, and was, overall, the preeminent mover and shaker in collaborations between American and Spanish museums.

Mark Roglán (Courtesy Meadows Museum. Photo: Hillsman Jackson)

Mark told me on Sunday that he had only weeks, if that, to live. He said of his cancer, “It’s taking everything away from me,” and that “everything” was so very much. Mark had four young children for whom he was a loving, proud father. His wife, Kathleen, is a wonderful woman whose poise and strength are now tested in ways I can’t imagine.

They’d just met when Mark and I met, in the late 1990s, when I was a curator at the Clark Art Institute, and he was working on his dissertation on American collections of Spanish art in the 19th century. The Clark owned a dozen small paintings by Mariano Fortuny and his circle that came to the United States in the 1880s and 1890s when such things, pretty majas and sunny landscapes, were a craze. He came to the Clark to look at the pictures and the curatorial files. Though the curator of American art, I knew more about Fortuny than anyone else there, so I considered this collection mine. Mark and I hit it off and kept in touch. I went to their wedding.

Mark grew up in Madrid. His father was a television news anchor and considered the Walter Cronkite of Spain. During the 1981 failed coup, he was among the

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