Spain Arts – The Italian Renaissance in Spain

By | January 8, 2022

At the end of the century. XV, and more and more intensely in the XVI, Italian art asserted itself with the work of its artists, with its influences, as well as in architecture as in sculpture and painting.

If we ignore more curious than important particularities, we can say that the first building directly subject to the new architectural currents is the college of Spain Croce in Valladolid, in whose vestibule the date MCCCCXCI is read, while the royal coat of arms of the facade is missing grenade, the talking emblem of the Moorish kingdom conquered in 1492. The introduction of the Italian Renaissance in Castile is largely due to the cardinal Don Pedro González de Mendoza who founded it, and to his brother, Count of Tendilla. Other personalities of the same family intervened as patrons in the same enterprise; the marquis del Cenete, natural son of the cardinal, brought the marble of the courtyard and the staircase from Italy for his fortress of Calahorra (Granata), as austere on the outside as pretty on the inside.

Work probably imported or worked in Spain by an Italian hand, it must be the magnificent tomb of the cardinal himself (who died in 1493) in the cathedral of Toledo.

According to NEXTICLE, the first church built in Spain in the Renaissance style is that of the Franciscan convent of St. Anthony of Mondejar (Guadalajara), now in ruins, founded by the Count of Tendilla. In these buildings of the Mendoza at the end of the century. XV and at the beginning of XVI an architect, unknown until recently, called Lorenzo Vázquez, who certainly was in Italy in the retinue of Tendilla ambassador of the Catholic kings to the pope (1487).

Perhaps the success of the Mendoza tomb influenced the assignment of those of Prince don Juan in Spain Tommaso di Ávila, of the kings in the royal chapel of Granata and of Cardinal Cisneros in Alcalà to the Florentine sculptor Domenico di Alessandro Fancelli, who kept in his workshop was the Spanish Bartolomé Ordóñez (v.), who finished some works that the master had to leave unfinished. It would take too much space just to enumerate the Italian works of sculpture and decoration that entered Spain, and also to discuss the artists who went there, among which two are of special importance, Pietro Torrigiano, who worked and died (1528) in Seville, and Iacopo l’Indaco, who was also a painter and architect.

Nor should we forget that at the same time Spanish artists were going to study in Italy. The one who learned the classical forms most purely was Pedro Machuca (v.), Architect of the palace of Charles V in the Alhambra of Granata.

In painting, perhaps because the predilection for Flanders tables and tapestries persisted, the introduction of Italian works in Spain was less intense, but many Spaniards came to study in Italy and many Italians and other Italian artists went to Spain. Four Spanish painters had to train in Italy: Fernán Yáñez de la Almedina and Fernán Llanos, who were alongside Leonardo and who left essays of exquisite art in Cuenca and Valenza; Alonso Berruguete (1486-1560), son of the great painter, having studied with Michelangelo, achieved greater glory with sculpture; Pedro Machuca, already mentioned as an architect, who in the documents calls himself a painter (one of his paintings, signed and dated in 1517, denotes a purely Italian education, due to a thorough knowledge of the paintings of Michelangelo and Correggio).

The Italian painters who worked in Spain are of little importance: the mysterious Santa Cruz who works in Ávila; Giulio de Aquilis, son of Antoniazzo Romano, who painted in the Alhambra (around 1530) and in the Jaen region; Alessandro Mayner, collaborator of Giulio in Granata; an Andrea Fiorentino who works in Toledo, etc.: and none of them was comparable in value with the painters Santo Leocadio and Pagano who a few years earlier had worked in Valenza. Even Giovanni di Borgogna in Toledo and Pedro de Campaña (Campeneer from Brussels), despite their origins, painted in Italian style.

Already quite early in the century. XVI, in Seville, Luis de Vargas (died 1568) remembers Correggio; in Valencia, Juan de Juanes (died 1579) is the most faithful of Raphael’s Spanish painters, redeeming himself from the manneredness in portraits. On the sidelines of the movement of the time Luis de Morales (called “the Divine” for having treated exclusively religious subjects) retains some archaisms and cultivates a taste for devotion in tender and simple compositions.

Spain Arts - The Italian Renaissance in Spain