Spain Arts under Philip II

By | January 9, 2022

Plateresque style. – For the notable reaction of the national genius against the introduction of foreign styles, and in moments of enormous vitality such as those of the reign of Charles V, an original art had to arise.

Since the architectural forms of the Renaissance began to arrive, a style is being formed (which Bertaux called “style Ximénez” after the great cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros) in which Italian elements appear on a Gothic background, all treated with technique and Moorish reminiscences (chapter house of the cathedral of Toledo, chapel of the Annunziata in the cathedral of Sigüenza, room “dei Grandi” in the university of Alcalà, etc.).

But, following the penetration of the Italian Renaissance, it took on a Spanish character in the style called plateresque (v.), Which in architecture with the abundance of ornaments, detail and elegance, somewhat suffocating the purity of the lines, etc., almost touches the art of goldsmiths (plateros).

As we have evoked Cardinal Mendoza and his family as decisive introducers of the Italian Renaissance in Spain, so we must recognize the part that the Archbishop of Santiago and Toledo Don Alonso de Fonseca (died 1534) had in protecting the Plateresque, by having the house of the Salina in Salamanca, the archiepiscopal college of the same city, the courtyard of the palace and the facade of the university of Alcalá, etc.

According to PICKTRUE, the major artists of this time among architects are: Alonso de Covarrubias, who worked mainly in Toledo, Pedro Gumiel in Alcalá and Diego de Siloe in Granata. Later in the century, Andrés de Vandelvira in the Jaen region cleansed the Plateresque of excessive decorative foliage, but the classical reaction thwarted its moderate tendency by bringing dryness to extremes with the pure geometry of a Juan de Herrera (v.).

In sculpture, four names stand out: Philip of Burgundy (died in 1543), who, still Gothic when he arrived in Burgos at the end of the century. XV, joined the art of the first thirty years of the century. XVI by actively collaborating with it; Alonso de Berruguete (v.), The strongest and most original of Spanish sculptors, performs great works (altar of St. Benedict in the Valladolid museum, half of the upper choir stalls in the cathedral of Toledo, etc.), which stand out for their their dynamism and strong dramatic emotion; Vasco de Zarza in Ávila and Toledo, a wonderful decorator, but more delicate than robust; Damiano Forment (died 1540), who was a great sculptor of altars in Catalonia (Poblet), Aragon (Zaragoza and Huesca), in Rioja (Santo Domingo de la Calzada), etc. Siloe was also an exquisite sculptor. Juan de Juni, French,

Art under Philip II. – From the middle of the century. XVI the events of Spanish art are better known, the individualities of the artists, some of them very great, are well known; therefore a summary is given here, referring to the individual items for details.

The reign of Philip II brought a classical reaction to the development of art: it is enough to evoke the greatest monument of his time, the Escoriale (1563-1584), of which Juan de Herrera was the builder; monument in which modern criticism has been able to find beauty and artistic merits where previously coldness and geometric aridity were censored.

Nell’Escoriale (v.) There is not the slightest sculptural decoration, there are almost no sculptures: a Spain Lorenzo, the six kings of Judah, the four Evangelists (works by the Toletan Juan Bautista Monegro), the Apostles and the Calvary of the altar, marvelous bronzes like the majestic mausoleums, works by Leone Leoni and his son Pompeo.

On the contrary, the pictorial decoration of the Escoriale was the personal care of King Philip II himself. It has already been said that from the century XV the kings of Castile were very fond of paintings and tapestries, but Philip II surpassed them all, who from his youth showed taste and knowledge of art. He inherited from his father the friendship and protection towards Titian, had the Moor at his service and bought hundreds of Flemish and Venetian paintings, his artistic preferences. He wanted to have Veronese and Tintoretto come to the Escoriale, and when, with little luck, an ambassador sent Federico Zuccari to him, he did not conceal his indignation. We do not know to what extent Luca Cambiaso and Pellegrino Tibaldi satisfied him, but it is known with what enthusiasm he encouraged the Spanish Juan Navarrete il Muto (died 1570), which, however, was not successful. A lack of the king’s artistic taste, not yet well explained and awaiting clarification, is the so-called “escorial failure of the Greek” whose marvelous St. Maurice did not occupy the place intended for him in a chapel, having been given the same assignment to R. Cincinnato. Before he began to paint at the Escoriale, a painter and sculptor who studied in Italy died in 1570, from which he had returned with mannered taste, G. Becerra. However, he had already painted in the huge monastery Alonso Sánchez Coello (1532-1588); disciple of Moro in the portrait, in which he was excellent; he was a follower of the Italians in religious compositions. Philip II not only assembled famous paintings in the Escoriale, but also in the Prado and the Alcázar of Madrid collected splendid collections, to which, increased by Philip III and Philip IV, the splendor of the great schools of Spanish painting in the sec. XVII.

At the death of Philip II, which coincides with the end of the century (1598), there were various important artistic centers in Spain: the court and Toledo, Seville and Valenza, and, for sculpture, Valladolid and Granada.

In the court (Madrid, royal buildings and Escoriale) two tendencies dominated: decorators (Italians and Italians) and portraitists (followers of Sánchez Coello and, through this, of Tiziano and del Moro). In Toledo the great figure of the Greek was affirmed, who according to the expression of a poet of the time “had found his brushes there”, less misunderstood and less isolated than it was supposed, forgetting the abundance of tasks entrusted to him, praise from contemporaries and the large number of his imitators and even his falsifiers. A new way of painting was born in Valenza, of which Francisco Ribalta was an expert and which cannot be called tenebrous because it differs from Caravaggism, but which had to lead to the same goal. In Seville there was a violent and valuable naturalist in the same generation, Francisco de Herrera the Elder, a learned painter and good teacher, Francisco Pacheco, and an artist who seemed to know the last Venetians, Juan de Roelas. All the elements necessary to give rise to a generation of great artists were in action: from 1591 to 1618, all the great Spanish painters were born from Ribera to Murillo.

In the sculpture, in Valladolid with the classical and elegant studio of Leoni, there coexisted mannered shoots of an art that had lost the spirit of Berruguete and the vivacity of Juni (in the context of pompousness and Michelangelo’s mannerism seen from afar), when the arrival of the Galician Gregorio Fernández, who apparently trained in Granata with Pablo de Rojas, began the great school of Castilian realistic statuary. In Seville, Juan Martínez Montañes, disciple of Rojas, represents a similar part.

Spain Arts under Philip II