Tag Archives: Toledo

ARTES Travel Scholarship Report: Maria Teresa Chicote Pompanin

artesThanks to the generosity of ARTES and Coll y Cortés, I was awarded a Travel Scholarships which gave me the opportunity to carry out field research in Spain during the Spring and Summer Terms of the academic year 2016-2017. Even if I was based in Madrid, my research was often conducted outside the capital and I had the chance to visit several medieval monuments linked to the PhD thesis I am writing at the Warburg Institute (London).

The goal of my PhD research is to demonstrate that the first two Marquises of Villena, Juan Pacheco (1419-1474) and Diego López Pacheco (c.1445-1529), dedicated enormous efforts and energies in organising a complex cultural programme aimed at counteracting the negative image of their family that the Catholic Monarchs had created through a powerful political propaganda. My research includes the analysis of material and written sources, as their combined reading in historical terms is one of the best tools to understand how historical memory could be manipulated through acts of patronage at the dawn of the Early Modern Period.

During my stay in Spain, I visited many cities and villages that belonged to the Marquises of Villena during the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Some of the most impressive castles I visited were those of Villena, Almansa, Escalona, Garcimuñoz, Chinchilla and Belmonte. Among the religious buildings, the most relevant for my research were the monasteries of Santa María del Parral, Saint Cataline of Siena and St Francis in Belmonte. These trips helped me to answer three fundamental questions of my PhD research: How did the Pachecos insert these buildings in the pre-existent urban landscape? In which way were they used by the Pachecos? And finally, what was their meaning and how were they perceived according to the standards of the visual culture of their time?

Being in Spain not only allowed me to visit and study in situ many buildings and artworks promoted by the Marquises of Villena, it also gave me the opportunity to carry out documentary research in various archives. The majority of the documents linked to the Pacheco family are preserved in the Archive of the Nobility, today in the Tavera’s Hospital in Toledo, a perfect place for all those who are interested in studying the great noble families of the medieval and early modern periods. Nonetheless, I also found interesting documents in the National Archive, the National Library, the Biblioteca Francisco de Zabálburu and the Biblioteca of the Museo Lázaro Galdiano.

While I was in Spain, I also dedicated part of my time in Spain to the drafting of a paper I presented at the Kings and Queens Conference: In the Shadow of the Throne, organised by the Royal Studies Network, which analysed the links between Diego López Pacheco and the inheritors to the Crowns of the Iberian Kingdoms. At the same time, I also had the chance to assist to several lectures and seminars, activities that were a useful platform to interact with scholars who are developing their research in Spanish institutions such as the CSIC, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Museo del Prado, etc.

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ARTES private visit to the V&A’s Opus Anglicanum exhibition, 9am, Weds 14 December

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The Toledo Cope (detail), copyright Toledo, Tesoro de la Catedral, Museo de Tapices y Textiles de la Catedral

 

The stunning exhibition of medieval English embroidery at the Victoria & Albert Museum includes several pieces long held in Spanish treasuries, including two wonderful copes from Toledo and Daroca. Curator Glyn Davies has kindly offered to take ARTES members on a private visit to the exhibition on Wednesday 14th December at 9am (ie before the exhibition opens to the public at 10am). Tom Nickson (ARTES Vice-Chair) will also speak briefly about how these English embroideries came to Spain, and their fate thereafter.

 

This event is open to ARTES members only. To join us (£35/£20) see details here. Members can confirm a place by emailing artesiberia@gmail.com, and should arrive at the V&A’s Secretariat Gate by 8.50am (NB, latecomers cannot be admitted).

Scholarship report from Costanza Beltrami, winner of a 2014 Artes Coll & Cortes Travel Scholarship

Thanks to the ARTES-Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarship, I travelled to Spain in June to visit buildings designed by the fifteenth-century French master mason Juan Guas.

San Juan de los Reyes

San Juan de los Reyes

During a previous trip, I visited the monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes in Toledo. Designed by Guas, this monastery is a royal foundation established to celebrate the Battle of Toro (1476). Although this battle was fought between the Catholic Monarchs and Alfonso V of Portugal, the exterior of the monastery’s church is festooned with the chains of Christian prisoners freed after the conquest of Grenada [right]. Celebration of a victory against a Christian king and anti-Moorish propaganda thus intersect in the church.

This intersection generates questions: was there always an intention to associate the church with the reconquista and the unification of Spain? Is this association consciously reflected in the style of the building, a flamboyant Gothic design that incorporates Moorish elements such as epigraphic inscriptions and artesonado ceilings?

Other questions regard Guas’ role in this stylistic fusion. The mid-twentieth century historians José Maria de Azcárate and Fernando Chueca Goitia considered Guas the creator of a national style that fused flamboyant Gothic with Spain’s unique Mudéjar heritage. Since Guas was the Catholic Monarchs’ royal architect, elements of royal propaganda in his designs are not surprising. But does this extend to the creation of a ‘national style’? With this question in mind, I designed the trip kindly sponsored by the ARTES-Coll and Cortés Travel Scholarship.

My travel started at the Prado Museum. Here I observed Flemish and ‘Hispano-Flemish’ works to consider how Flemish style and techniques were received in another medium.

Palacio del Infantado

Palacio del Infantado

I then started visiting Guas’ buildings, first the Castle of Manzanares el Real and then the Palacio del Infantado in Guadalajara. Together with San Juan de los Reyes, these are usually pinpointed as Guas’ ‘Hispano-islamic’ works. Indeed, I noticed features possibly inspired by Mudéjar sources, for example blind ‘horseshoe arches’ at the top of the Infantado’s gallery [left], and long epigraphic inscriptions.

 

Yet Mudéjar details are not the only decoration; moreover, Manzanares and the Infantado were built for the Mendoza family, not for the kings. Rather than celebrate the new national unity, Mudéjar designs may simply contribute to express noble magnificentia.

The desire to express magnificentia offers a specific motivation for Guas’ fusion of Gothic and Mudéjar in these palaces. Contrary to what some scholars have implied, Guas did not simply ‘absorb’ Toledo’s Mudéjar buildings and unconsciously reproduce their features.

My next destinations were Segovia and Avila. Segovia cathedral is attributed to Juan Gil de Hontañón, trained in Guas’ workshop. The detailing of the bases of the cathedral’s nave piers is almost identical to that of Manzanares’ courtyard, suggesting broader stylistic uniformity than it appears when focusing on a single architect.

Visiting the monastery of El Parral in Segovia and that of Santo Tomás in Avila evidenced similarities between buildings sponsored by royal patronage: for example, both monasteries’ churches have choirs elevated over slender segmental arches.

My next stop, El Paular monastery, contains an alabaster altarpiece where flamboyant Gothic elements are used in a typically Spanish floor-to-ceiling retablo. Unsurprisingly, it is attributed to sculptors close to Guas, who designed the monastery’s cloister. This has different vault designs on each side, possibly depending on its position relative to El Paular’s church.

San Gregorio

San Gregorio

I then visited Valladolid’s Colegio de San Gregorio [right]. Covered with figural decoration and branch tracery, San Gregorio’s façade contradicts the characterization of Guas’ decoration as geometric, aniconic and therefore ‘oriental.’

For all its display of heraldic devices, the building hardly fits the ideological framework built around Guas’ style by Azcárate and Goitia. Indeed, San Gregorio’s decorative complexity underscored my overall impression of Guas’ style as resistant to nationalistic labels.

 

 

I am very grateful to ARTES and Coll & Cortés for this invaluable opportunity to analyse the stylistic labels attached to Guas through first-hand encounter with his oeuvre.

VISIT: Toledo 3-Day Visit – Fri 5 to Sun 7 June 2015 – British Spanish Society welcomes ARTES members

The British Spanish Society is hosting a 3-day visit to Toledo
f
rom Fri 5 to Sun 7 June 2015

Members of ARTES are welcome to join the BSS for this visit

There is an official deadline of Monday 16 February but please contact Morlin if you are interested at artesiberia@gmail.com

Toledo Visit_000001 Toledo Visit_000002

Tuesday 16 September 2014 – Concert in London: Music and art in Toledo at the time of El Greco

A celebration of the music and art of Toledo in the 16th century will held at the Church of St James – London’s ‘Spanish Church’ – in the West End on Tuesday 16th September. The event is the being organised by the BritishSpanish Society.

At the time of El Greco, Toledo was a major centre for sacred music and for centuries Spanish sacred music was known as Canto toledano. It still houses one of the richest libraries of sacred music in Spain as well as an outstanding collection of Flemish Renaissance music.

Coro Cervantes

Music will be performed by the Coro Cervantes, the UK’s only chamber choir dedicated to Hispanic and Latin American classical music. Exploring these connections between music and art will be the choir’s musical director Carlos Fernández Aransay and Chief Curator of the Dulwich Picture Gallery and longtime supporter of ARTES, Xavier Bray.

Xavier+Bray+Jorge+Dezcallar+Sacred+Made+Real+IHsc4STTUCfl

Xavier has curated or co-curated all the major exhibitions of Spanish Golden Age art in London over the past 10 years: El Greco (National Gallery, 2004), Velázquez (National Gallery, 2006) and Murillo (Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2013); and is currently working on an exhibition of Goya’s portraits for the National Gallery in October 2015. In 2009 he conceived and curated the groundbreaking exhibition The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700 (2009), which was instrumental in bringing audiences in the UK and beyond to a greater understanding and appreciation of sacred Spanish art. The legacy of this exhibition continues. This summer Sotheby’s London held its first selling exhibition devoted exclusively to sacred paintings and sculpture; seventeen of the twenty-six works were Spanish. This exhibition, Contemplation of the Divine was masterminded by Alexander Kader, Senior Director & Head of Sculpture & Works of Art and ARTES member James Macdonald, Senior Director & Head of Private Sales, Old Master Paintings, both of whom were kind enough to take ARTES members on a private tour.

For more information see: ARTES post 24 Aug 2014, Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge on Fundraising Drive to purchase a Pedro de Mena Mater Dolorosa. Particularly for the historic reception of Spanish art in the UK: Spanish Art in Britain and Ireland, 1750-1920. Studies in Reception in Memory of Enriqueta Harris Frankfort, edited by Nigel Glendinning & Hilary Macartney, Tamesis, 2011.

Tickets: £22 for non-members of the British Spanish Society, available from their Events Secretary or the Society’s website, www.britishspanishsociety.org. Membership of the Society is open to all (£25) and an application form can be found on the website. Tickets for members are £17.

Date Tuesday 16 September 2014 at 6.30pm, followed by a reception

Venue The Church of St James, Spanish Place, 22 George St, London W1U 3QY (near to the Wallace Collection). NB: Bond Street tube is not fully operational. Please check before using.

St James's Spanish Church London

ARTES visit: Contemplation of the Divine, Sotheby’s, London

2014-06-ContemplationDivineSothebysContemplation of the Divine, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street Galleries, 5-16 July 2014

ARTES Members’ visit: Monday, 7 July, 2:30PM.

Comprises a selection of predominantly Spanish, Italian and Early Netherlandish paintings and sculpture ranging in period from the Early Renaissance through until the late Baroque.
Link to the web catalogue
Link to the catalogue (page-turner version)

Contemporary art responses to El Greco, Toledo

2014-05-CristinaIglesias-ElGrecoContemporary art responses to El Greco: Cristina Iglesias will install a sequence of sculptures around Toledo in celebration of the artist and Elena Ochoa Foster has organised an exhibition of photographers’ responses to the city of Toledo in the city’s Centro Cultural San Marcos, 21 February – 14 June.