Spain Gothic Arts in the 13th-15th Century Part II

By | January 6, 2022

The sculpture of the century. XIV is not comparable to that of XIII; it is more profuse than inspired and vigorous. In the fourteenth century works arrived from Italy, such as the sepulcher of Spain Eulalia in the cathedral of Barcelona (1339).

According to INSIDEWATCH, the sec. XV was a wonderful flowering for Spanish sculpture. At the beginning of it, the sculptor Giuliano Fiorentino, who had undergone the influence of Ghiberti, works in Valenza; Juan de la Huerta is Claus Sluter’s assistant in Dijon; in Pamplona he sculpts Burgundian Janin de Lome (1416). The arrival of French, Flemish and German artists, who immediately nationalize themselves, in Burgos (the Colonia, the Siloe), in Toledo (Giovanni Alemanno, l’Egas, Giovanni Guas), in Guadalupe (Egas), in Seville (Mercadante of Brittany), produces an extraordinary movement, also aided by the spread of two forms of art which, if they did not originate in Spain, however, reached their maximum development in Spain: the large carved altars and the choir stalls.

Among the first are the altars of Tarragona, of St. Nicholas of Burgos, of the Carthusian monastery of Miraflores, up to the colossal one of the Cathedral of Seville, and that of Toledo, of the early years of the century. XVI. Of the choral stalls it is worth mentioning the complicated ones in the flowery Gothic style in Spain Tommaso di Ávila, in the Carthusian monastery of Miraflores, in Celanova (Galicia), etc., and those sculpted with figures in León, Ciudad Rodrigo, Plasencia, in addition to the lower part of that of Toledo, work of the master Rodrigo Alemanno.

In the century XIII the miniature continued to flourish. In the court of Alfonso X the Wise, the school of illuminators was in a certain way the branch of the French school of the court of St. Louis. Painting followed the Romanesque archaisms and diminished in importance with the diminishing of the mural spaces in Gothic architecture.

Antonio Sanchez of Segovia signed the paintings in the chapel of St. Martin in the old cathedral of Salamanca in 1262 and was the first painter in Castile whose work is known. The Catalan-Romanesque frontals acquire greater dimension and begin to change into sculpted altars. The influence of the miniature, especially French, is evident in the Castilian works.

Italian painting enters Spain in the first half of the century. XIV, and then continuously up to the century. XVI.

Ferrer Bassa (1285 or 1290-1348) is the author of the mural paintings of Pedralms (Barcelona) executed in 1345 or 1346 and in which there are Florentine and Sienese features; then they work in the towns of Aragon Jaime and Pedro Serra, in whose altars the influence of Siena is accentuated.

In the last years of the century. XIV the Florentine painter Gherardo di Iacopo Starnina goes to Catalonia and Valenza and works in Toledo; and if it is not certain that the paintings of the chapel of Spain Biagio in the cathedral of Toledo are by his hand, we can assume his influence.

The sec. XV is inaugurated with the very Italian altar of the Carthusian monastery of Porta Coeli (now in the museum of Valenza), be it the work of an Italian or a Spaniard, p. ex. by Lorenzo Zaragoza. The teachings of Florence and Siena, and, doubtless, also those of Avignon, must have penetrated more into Aragon and Navarre than into central and western Spain; however the Italo-Gothic ways strongly dominate in Castile itself. In 1434 the work of the altar of the cathedral of León was completed, an immense work of the master Nicolas Francese, in which the Sienese influences are mixed with those of the miniatures from beyond the Pyrenees. Before 1446 the altar, still preserved in its entirety, of the cathedral of Salamanca was painted by the Italian Dello di Nicola, known as Nicola Fiorentino.

But already at the beginning of the fifteenth century there had been indications of a new style in painting, which was to acclimate in Spain with almost the same vigor as it had in its homeland. In 1429 Jan Van Eyck had been in Portugal, in Granata and Compostella; in 1431 Lluís Dalmau (v.) went as a pensioner in Flanders and in 1443 he painted the Virgin with the portraits of the Councilors of Barcelona (now in the museum of this city) following a composition by Van Eyck and even copying the angels, albeit in tempera; an artist, called Giorgio Inglese, of Flemish technique, is a painter of the Marquis of Santillana around 1450, and Jaime Baço Jacomart, painter of the great King Alfonso V, announces the new destinies of the art of Spanish painting with the fusion of Italian influences with the Flemish technique.

Already before the middle of the century. XV the Flemish tables were very numerous in Spain; from no country, including Flanders, have so many come out, and perhaps other than Flanders no country still retains such a large number of them. Their teaching was to give enormous results.

Spain Gothic Arts in the 13th-15th Century Part II