Art under Philip III (1598-1621). – This is an era of transition for art: Escorial architectural forms continue to be in vogue, maintained by Gómez de Mora and others while those baroque freedoms that were to blossom during the following reign are incubating.
If Schubert opens the history of the Spanish Baroque with the Escoriale, other treatises see the beginning in the Chancellery of Granata (I580), but already in the octagon of the chapel of the Madonna del Sagrario of the cathedral of Toledo (1592 and following). the transgressions against the classical style are patent.
In painting, except for the Greek who continued to produce his marvelous exaltations in Toledo, the above mentioned artistic centers were maintained, but the pictorial production in the court was of such poor quality, that Rubens, when he was in Spain for the first once in 1603, he formulated a harsh judgment on it.
According to PLUS-SIZE-TIPS, in sculpture it is the great moment of realism. Gregorio Fernández (died 1636) worked in Madrid, Plasencia and above all in Valladolid, dedicating his activity mainly to the sculpture of wooden groups of two or more figures (pasos) for the processions. The court’s residence in Valladolid had aroused in that Castilian city a desire to flaunt the faith, supported by the brotherhoods of penitents who ordered sculpted groups representing scenes from the Passion of Christ. Gregorio Fernández was the one who best understood popular taste; his statues are imbued with a pathetic, realistic, exquisite feeling only when he models the nude. In Andalusia, Martínez Montañes (1568-1649), a fruitful sculptor of altars, whose figures, being more classic than those of Fernández, have greater nobility and gentleness. Among his pupils Juan de Mesa stands out, to whom the documents have returned some of the most famous works that were believed to be the master.
Art under Philip IV (1621-1665). – It is difficult to summarize the magnificent picture of art during the reign of Philip IV, of the monarch who, among other things, was lucky enough to reign at the time of Velázquez, whom he protected from his arrival in Madrid until his death (1623-1660). The count-duke Olivares, general minister and favorite of Philip, also protected the Velázquez and with the works of the Buen Retiro palace (Madrid) he increased the arts. Furthermore, the king was an enthusiastic buyer of paintings and had Rubens at his service, to whom he entrusted many assignments and who, returning for the second time to Spain in 1628-1629, had a less adverse opinion on Spanish painters.
Among the painters the Velázquez is sovereign in this epoch; in the school of Valenza F. Ribalta, Ribera; in the school of Seville, Alonso Cano, the Zurbarán: masters whose powerful individuality is defined in the individual voices.
Here we will note only a few peculiarities. We have already mentioned the influence that the very rich royal collections had on the development of Spanish painting, in which the paintings of the Venetian school and of Rubens’ personal production predominated, although other trends were copiously and brilliantly represented; and it was these royal collections that gave the strongest imprint to the school of Madrid dominated by Velázquez. He had pupils and imitators, but his contemporary painters and others who immediately succeeded him in his court assignments (Antolínez, Cerezo, Carreño, Claudio Coello, etc.), instead of taking full advantage and unreservedly of his ingenious technical achievements, they try to reconstruct his procedure in a certain way and intensely study Titian, Rubens, Van Dyck.
Among the closest followers of Velázquez it will be enough to remember Antonio Puga, Juan de Pareja, the Mazo (died in 1667), who married a daughter of the master and came to be a palace painter. Even less was the direct influence of the Zurbarán: his pupils Francisco Reina, the Polancos, etc., retain hardly any good traits of their teacher.
On the other hand, indirect influences, knowledge of precedents, mysterious and fruitful ties contributed to the marvelous splendor of Spanish painting in this time. Velázquez studies Greek, knows the court portraitist school which belongs to the Moro and Sánchez Coello, does not ignore the Ribalta, is a fellow disciple of Zurbarán and a friend of Cano, visits the Ribera in Naples, preserves and puts in order the artistic treasures royals, buys works of art for his king in Italy.
In this period of time the best treatises were written: that of Vincenzo Carducci, a Florentine (trained again in Spain, where he went with his brother Bartolomeo Carducci painter in the Escoriale), which has the title Diálogos de la pintura (Madrid 1636), el ‘ Arte de la pintura (1649) by Francisco Pacheco, learned and prudent master of Velázquez, Zurbarán and Alonso Cano. Other treatises remained unpublished, such as those of the Aragonese painter Jusepe Martínez, of Díaz del Valle, a disappointed panegyrist of Velázquez, etc.
The most illustrious sculptor of this time, excluding the already mentioned Montañes, was Alonso Cano (v.), Who was also a wonderful painter, architect and draftsman. His influence was great, even on Velázquez, and was decisive in the trend of sculpture which is later personified in Pedro de Mena (1628-88) and in José de Mora (1642-1724). A Portuguese-born artist, Manuel Pereyra (1574-1667), continued the realistic tradition in Philip IV’s Madrid.
Baroqueism developed vigorously in architecture. The Pantheon of the Escoriale, of which the Italian Giovanni Battista Crescenzio was the main builder, the chapel of Spain Isidro in Madrid (1642-1609), etc., herald the invasion that was not long in coming and that during the same kingdom was shown in the “Sagrario” of the cathedral of Seville, in the Charity of the same city, in the nave of the Charterhouse of Granata, etc. The names of Sebastián Herrera Barnuevo, of Pedro de la Torre. by Francisco Herrera the Younger, excel among those of the architects of this phase of the Baroque.