Tag Archives: Coll & Cortes

ARTES Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarship report: Pablo Ordás (PhD, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 2017)

My name is Pablo Ordás and I was granted an ARTES Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarship to conduct research in the UK. Thanks to this scholarship I was able to spend three weeks (22/10/2018–10/11/2018) at The British Library, researching Spanish manuscripts closely related to my previous PhD research, dedicated to ‘The Gothic Cloister in the Kingdom of León: Spaces, Destinies and Images’.

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British Library, Add Ch 24807. Copyright: British Library

The British Library houses a small but very interesting collection of Spanish charters (Add Ch 24802–24815 & 24819) that date back from the reign of Alfonso IX of León (†1230) to a papal confirmation of Innocent VIII (†1492). Because of my previous research I was especially interested in the two confirmation of privileges granted by Alfonso XI, for different reasons: Add Ch 24805 preserves the lead seal of the king, something exceptional since most of the documents were stripped of their seals in the following centuries; Add Ch 24807 is a confirmation of previous privileges that were confirmed by the king’s father, Fernando IV (†1312) and that date back to his grandfather Sancho IV (†1295). Remarkably, the first 9 lines of the latter document are a series of intitulationes that describe the original documents. Another interesting aspect is that this charter was given during the tutorship of the infantes don Pedro and don Juan, Alfonso XI’s uncle that died in the Disaster of the Vega de Granada in 1319. The rarity of royal confirmations during the minority of age of the king and this first tutoría (1312–1319) make this document exceptional.

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Detail of British Library, Add Ch 24807. Copyright: British Library

A real surprise came under the fold at the bottom of the parchment, where the name of Pedro Rendol is mentioned. Pedro Rendol is a somewhat obscure character that paid an important role in the rebellion of 1296 when infante don Juan el de Tarifa (†1319) and Alfonso de la Cerda (†1333) claimed the crowns of León and Castile respectively. Apparently don Juan was crowned at León, with the agreement of the clergy and the city council, thanks, among others, to Pedro Rendol. When the rebellion was suppressed and Fernando IV punished its most important leaders, Pedro Rendol’s possessions were confiscated but he managed to remain a relevant player in Castilian politics. His presence in this royal charter, next to his former patron infant don Juan, proves it.

Add Ch 28406 is the testament of Doña Blanca de Portugal, abbess of the monastery of Las Huelgas de Burgos. I was interested in the fragments of a wax pendant seal that are still attached to the silk threads hanging from the document. The condition of wax seals such as this is generally worse than that of lead seals. This example no exception: the seal is broken and only the upper half is preserved.

Finally, I was able to work with a very remarkable manuscript, the Primera Partida by king Alfonso X (Ms Add 20787). The miniatures of this manuscript have been barely studied and only a monography from the 1970s (Juan Antonio Arias Bonet, Alfonso X el Sabio: Primera Partida según el manuscrito Add. 20.787 del British Museum, Valladolid,  1975) is dedicated to this exceptional book. The volume is illuminated with 26 miniatures, from capital letters (7) to vignettes (19) that are used as visual representations of the following tituli.

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The Law Code of King Alfonso X (‘el Sabio’), Primera Partida, British Library, Add 20787. Copyright: British Library

The book is usually related to the same workshop that illuminated the most famous of Alfonso’s literary productions, the Cantigas de Santa María. However, some questions arise from a study of the manuscript’s miniatures: no traces of the Cantigas’ characteristic frames with royal arms are present in the British Library manuscript; illustrations related to the reigns of Alfonso X’ (1252–1284) and his son Sancho IV (1284–1295), always depict the the king beardless, something that would become common under the reigns of Fernando IV (1295–1312) and Alfonso XI (1312–1350). Could this be a later manuscript that follows the aesthetic path of the Cantigas? A deeper study should be undertaken in order to answer this question. So far we can only attest to the importance of the volume’s iconography and the close relationship between the miniatures and the text.

I am sure that these documents will make my research richer and I will be able to include this information in my future research. The charters related to Alfonso XI and Doña Blanca are of particular importance for the history of León cathedral.

To conclude, I am indebted to Dr. Tom Nickson from The Courtauld Institute for his support and guidance, and for organising the seminar Art, music and ceremony in Medieval Castile at Trinity College (Cambridge, 29/10/2018) while I was in the United Kingdom. Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to ARTES and Coll & Cortés for their generous support, without which this stay would have been impossible.

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Lecture, ‘Images, devotion and emotion in 13th- and 14th-century Castile’. 5pm, Wednesday 18th April, 2018. Courtauld Institute of Art

image001Fernando Gutiérrez Baños (University of Valladolid), ‘Images, devotion and emotion in 13th- and 14th-century Castile’.

5pm, Wednesday 18th April 2018. Courtauld Institute of Art

What was the role of images in the religious experience of Castilian people of the 13th and 14th centuries? There is no clear answer, and the scarcity of written evidence has prompted much problematic speculation. However, on the basis of the images themselves and of relevant literary sources, including the well-known Cantigas de Santa María and works by 14th-century authors such as Juan Ruiz and Juan Manuel, it is possible to explore a number of key issues. The talk will be divided into three sections. One focuses on the 13thcentury: ‘Active images: the Cantigas de Santa María and their aftermath’. Another looks to the 14th century: ‘Passive images: the reception and dissemination of the Crucifixus dolorosus in Castile’. And it concludes by looking ‘beyond’ Art History. In the 1960s a Spanish politician coined the (in)famous tourist slog, ‘Spain is different’. His aim was to encourage foreigners to visit Spain, but the slogan is representative of a commonplace that has been repeated time and again since the Romantic era. Ultimately, my talk offers an invitation to reconsider whether Castilian and Spanish devotional practices are really so very different from those recorded elsewhere in medieval western Europe.

Fernando Gutiérrez Baños is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art History of the University of Valladolid (Spain). He has been Frances A. Yates Short-Term Research Fellow at London’s Warburg Institute (2006) and Visiting Fellow at Princeton’s Index of Christian Art (2013). He specialises in art of the 13th and 14th centuries, focusing mainly on painting and art patronage. He is currently developing a research project on Castilian tabernacle-altarpieces of the Late Middle Ages, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and by the European Union through the ERDF (reference HAR2017-82949-P).

This is the second lecture in the Coll & Cortes Medieval Spain Seminar Series 2018-20, focused on images and devotion in late medieval Spain.

ARTES Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarship report: Sylvia Alvares-Correa (PhD Candidate, University of Oxford)

By Sylvia Alvares-Correa

joosvancleve

Joos van Cleve (attr.)
The Annunciation
1512-1520
Oil on oak panel
Museu de Arte Sacra do Funchal, inv. MASF35

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Detail of figure 1

The generous award funds provided by ARTES Coll&Cortes allowed me to travel to Lisbon to investigate the transmission of Flemish art, designs, and techniques to Portugal in the late medieval period, on which my PhD research is based. The trip fortuitously overlapped with the exhibition ‘The Islands of White Gold, Art Commissions in Madeira: 15th and 16th Centuries’ at the Museu Nacional De Arte Antiga as well as the ‘Medieval Europe in Motion—The Middle Ages, A Global Context?’ conference hosted at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Both introduced me to works of art and research with which I had not been familiar and underlined the complexity and ambiguity involved in defining artistic transmission.

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Workshop or Circle of Quentin Metsys
Triptych of the Descent from the Cross
Oil on oak panel
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Inv. 1285 Pint

The fluid movement of artists and designs between north and south during this period means that just because something looks Flemish doesn’t necessarily mean it is; unfortunately, ‘style’ is often the determinant factor in classifying the origin of artworks in museums as well as in literature. Production methods can help elucidate if not by who at least where an artwork was made. To this end, the research trip sponsored by ARTES Coll & Cortes allowed me to collect data on the different joinery methods used in 15th and 16th century panel painting. Specifically, I sought out works joined by perpendicular dowels. Internal dowels, the predominate joinery method found in the north, in some cases dictated by guild regulations, are less likely to disrupt the surface of the painting; perpendicular dowels, however, tend to protrude slightly to the surface over time and can often be discerned with the naked eye. Current research proposes that the latter joinery method was predominant exclusively in Portugal (though famously employed by Hugo van der Goes as well).

 

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Detail of figure 2

My preliminary investigations, however, yielded evidence that perpendicular dowels were utilized not only Portuguese panel paintings, but also in panels believed to be imported from Flanders. While it is too early to draw conclusions, the diversity of joinery methods observed suggest that either perpendicular dowels were not as uncommon to northern production as has been supposed or that certain works in Portuguese collections which have been classified as ‘Flemish’ were perhaps produced locally. I’m looking forward to delving in further!

 

 

 

 

 

Artes Coll & Cortes Scholarship Report, Encarna Montero

Here follows a report by Dr Encarna Montero Tortajada, a post-doctoral researcher from Valencia, who in 2015 was  awarded a £3000 scholarship to conduct research in the UK.

Saint George Altarpiece

St George Altarpiece, Victoria & Albert Museum

From the 7th of January 2016, I spent forty days in London conducting research on Spanish art in the United Kingdom, thanks to an ARTES scholarship granted last year. The first week was almost entirely consecrated to preparing the talk “Architectural Practice in Spain, 1370-1450: Documents, Drawings and Historiography”, delivered on the 18th of January at the Courtauld Institute. After that, I conducted my research in the Warburg Library and in the Courtauld Library, where I found new and very useful papers about several historiographical problems within my field of academic interests. Moreover, the stay was a superb opportunity to attend lectures and seminars related to medieval art, for example Mary Carruthers’ seminar on the Art of Invention in Cambridge (“Vividness, Evidence, Proof: the Role of Visions”), and Lina Bolzoni’s talk about Memory Palaces in the Renaissance at the Courtauld Institute. Besides, I was kindly invited by Nicola Jennings and Tom Nickson to join their lessons in the V&A about Spanish Medieval Art and Gothic architectural drawings, respectively. I could visit, too, the medieval collections of the British Museum and the National Gallery, and prominent architectural monuments such as Ely Cathedral and Saint Alban’s Abbey. Furthermore, in addition to the aforementioned scholars, I met researchers as Susie Nash, Barry Taylor, Rose Walker and Kirstin Kennedy, who all gave me sound advice about my work.

 

NPG 2543; Sir John Robinson by John James Napier

Sir John Charles Robinson, by John James Napier, National Portrait Gallery

The main focus of my research in London was the altarpiece of Saint George (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1217-1864), an exceptional work of art and very well preserved. The piece was bought in Paris art market in 1864, and was said to have been removed from a church of Valencia. Little more is known about its original context. In order to discover more about the circumstances of its purchase, I reviewed the files referring to Saint George’s Altarpiece in the Prints and Drawings Study Room of the V&A, as well as other documents lent by the Conservation Department of the Museum. Key information was provided by Blythe House Archives, particularly the files of Sir John Charles Robinson, John Webb and Juan Facundo Riaño. Robinson’s words on the altarpiece put its acquisition into context: Spanish medieval art had begun to be greatly appreciated in France and Britain ca. 1864, partly because of the influence of the French Empress, and partly because of the 19th century’s love affair with the exoticism of Southern Europe. Robinson’s voyages to Spain testify to this allure (exemplified by the V&A’s cast of El Pórtico de la Gloria ). Webb was summoned

Robinson Files, Blythe House

Robinson files, Blythe House, V&A

by Robinson to examine the Altarpiece of Saint George, and his diagnosis was key: the piece was deemed worthy of its asking price. The reports of Juan Facundo Riaño, who wasn’t directly involved in the issue, reveal also a whole world of antique dealers, painters, diplomats and connoisseurs operating in Spain. The reading of bibliography related to the art market in mid 19th-century Europe completed this survey of the vicissitudes of the Saint George Altarpiece. I hope that the outcome of this research will be published soon in a forthcoming paper.

 

Essay prize and Scholarships: Call for Submissions, deadline 15th February 2016

ARTES offers a number of prizes and scholarships, which all have the same deadline of 15th February 2016. Click the links below to find further details:

Juan Facundo Riaño Essay Prize: sponsored by the Embassy of Spain in London, this prize is awarded to the best essay on any aspect of Hispanic visual culture.

ARTES Coll & Cortés Scholarships, in association with the British-Spanish Society. These scholarships are sponsored by art dealers Coll & Cortés, and are aimed at students and researchers working on Hispanic art before 1800

 

Spanish embassy logocollcortes_logoArtes logo

 

ARTES Coll & Cortes 2015 Travel Scholarship report

Maeve O’Donnell, PhD candidate, Courtauld Institute of Art, reports on her travels sponsored by this scholarship

11738044_10104134174208549_4216571105197211521_nThe ARTES Coll y Cortes Travel Scholarship allowed me to complete archival research central to my doctoral thesis. Textual sources have been indispensable to my investigation into thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Castilian altars because many of these altars and their furnishings have been lost or disassembled. By carefully combing through primary sources — many of which have not been published in full and are hidden away in cathedral archives — I have been able to reconstruct a detailed picture of the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century altar from this kingdom. Inventories, wills, receipts, statutes, and letters both describe the objects that made up the altar at this time and point to its various usages. More than a liturgical focal point, altars were sites for the expression of the surrounding communities’ identities. This identity was reflected, for instance, by personal items bequeathed to the altar or through furnishings ornamented with political or royal symbols.

In early 2015, I spent several weeks in the archives of Burgos and Toledo cathedrals. Although I P1030659was able to find useful primary documents at these sites, my thesis would not have properly represented Castilian medieval art without close investigation into Seville cathedral’s thirteenth- and fourteenth-century altars. The ARTES Coll y Cortes Travel Scholarship allowed me to spend three weeks researching in the archive of Seville cathedral. It was especially useful to spend time looking through early modern collections of cathedral statutes in which medieval regulations are cited. The Estatutos y Constituciones de la Santa Iglesia de Sevilla, for instance, contained notes in its margins that identified the medieval sources of some of its entries. Viewing this source firsthand has allowed me to engage more critically with its usage in current scholarship. It was similarly of value to my project to read through a late fourteenth-century set of regulations for the cathedral’s original royal chapel, which described the ceremonies performed around the altar of this important royal tomb. It was also very instructive to conduct this archival research while regularly visiting the cathedral’s works of art. For instance, a striking reliquary cross in the cathedral’s collection has often been connected to documents in the archive that seem to allude to it. Reading through such documents and then visiting the work in person allowed me to appreciate the problems set forth by these textual sources.

A 090Without the help of this travel scholarship, my dissertation would have been limited to northern and central Castile and would have fallen short of capturing the full range of cultural and artistic transformations taking place in this kingdom during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. By comparing extant objects with contemporary descriptions found in documents from the archive of Seville cathedral, my PhD project will provide a comprehensive picture of the medieval Castilian altar and its furnishings so far missing in scholarship on medieval Iberian art.