This documentary recounts the history and significance of Jacob and his twelve sons, a series of thirteen paintings completed by Francisco de Zurbarán in Seville around the year 1640. They may have been intended for the New World, although nothing is known of them until they were acquired in an auction by London merchant James Mendez seventy years later. In a compelling gesture, they were acquired by Bishop of Durham Richard Trevor in 1756, when debate around a bill on the emancipation of British Jewry was raging. He hung them in his dining room in Auckland Castle, where they remain to this day. Now, thanks to the initiative of a financier from that area, Jacob and his twelve sons have become a driver of regeneration in a community in the north of England.
While renovation works were being completed in their home at Auckland Castle, the paintings were exhibited in the Meadows Museum in Dallas, The Frick Collection in New York and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This film tracks their international travels, with contributions by known experts on Spanish painting as well as those behind an ambitious project using art as a tool for social transformation.
Arantxa Aguirre holds a PhD in Spanish Literature and has published Buñuel, lector de Galdós (Pérez Galdós Award 2003) and 34 actores hablan de su oficio, a sequel to her documentary Hécuba, which was nominated for a Goya Award in 2007. She has worked as assistant director with Mario Camus, Basilio Martín Patino, Pedro Almodóvar and Carlos Saura, among others. Her documentary films include the award-winning El esfuerzo y el ánimo (2009), American Swan in Paris (2011) and Dancing Beethoven (2016, nominated for the Goya, Forqué and Platino Awards), all commercially released in several countries. She was made a member of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2020.