Tag Archives: Travel

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.

Advertisements

ARTES Coll & Cortes Scholarships Awards, 6.45pm, Wednesday 28th October 2015. Courtauld Institute of Art

collcortes_logoThe 2015 ARTES Coll & Cortes scholars will be announced at a special drinks reception at the Courtauld Institute of Art on Wednesday 28th October, starting at approximately 6.45pm. The scholarships, generously supported by the art dealers Coll & Cortes, were set up in 2014 in order to encourage and reward young scholars studying visual culture in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.2014-06-Courtauld-Somerset House All are welcome, no need to book.

The deadline for submissions for the 2016 scholarships is 31st January 2016: see further details here.

The ceremony follows the first in a series of lectures on Spanish medieval architecture, also sponsored by Coll & Cortes. Further details here.

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.

1st ARTES Coll & Cortés Scholars announced

ARTES is delighted to announce the winners of the 2014 ARTES Coll & Cortés scholarships. Out of a very strong field the following awards were made:

Santa CatalinaARTES Coll & Cortés PhD Scholarship for students at a UK University

This was awarded to Kathryn Santner, a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, to support her study of the paintings in the Convent of Santa Catalina de Sena, in Arequipa, Peru.

 

ARTES Coll & Cortés Scholarships for PhD or post-doc students in Spain, Portugal or Latin America

This was awarded to Ana Hernández Ferreirós, a doctoral student at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, for her research on the twelfth-century bibles of San Isidoro de Leon and San Millan de la Cogolla.

ARTES Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarships

These were awarded to Costanza Beltrami, a 3rd-year undergraduate student at the Courtauld Institute, for a research trip to Spain to visit buildings associated with the fifteenth-century architect Juan Guas. Another scholarship was awarded to Matilde Grimaldi, a PhD student at the Courtauld Institute, for a research trip to Tortosa to study the city’s twelfth-century cathedral (now largely destroyed), and its treasury.

ARTES extends its warmest congratulations to the 2014 scholars, and thanks Coll & Cortés once again for their generous support.

 

 

Michael Jacobs, 1952-2014

Michael JacobsThe Hispanic world has lost one of its greats.  Michael Jacobs, who died from cancer on 9 January 2014  aged 61, was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable writer with an endearing personality, in the  tradition of George Borrow, Richard Ford and Gerald Brenan.

Michael had an extraordinary ability to connect, and both his art historical and his travel books are full of fresh, lively and entertaining insights.  He had a lifelong passion for Spain, and settled in the  village of Frailes in the Provincía de Jaen in 1999,  and there he soaked up and observed the people, atmosphere, sights and food of Andalucía, and wrote about them. Frailes later became his base when he travelled further afield to South and Central America.

He was born on 15 October 1952 in Genoa, Italy, to an Anglo-Irish father, and an Italian mother, who had acted with a Sicilian theatre company in the last years of the Second World War, and from whom Michael developed a passion for food.  He was educated at  Westminster School, and went to the Courtauld Institute, which was then in Portman Square and under the Directorship of Anthony Blunt, to study for his BA and later his PhD in the early 1970s.

Michael was an encyclopaedic scholar but never a conventional one.  A career spent in the confines of a museum or an art history department was not for him (though he was a Senior Honorary Research Fellow of Glasgow University); but he was the author of 24 books. His restless curiosity led him to write early guides to art and artists of the British Isles, and artist colonies in Europe and America, before moving on to travel books about places as varied as Provence, Czechoslovakia, Budapest, Romania, Barcelona, Madrid, Andalucía, the Alhambra and the Camino de Santiago. He translated Golden Age plays, and began to write more personal books on Spain beginning with Between Hopes and Memories (1994), which caused the newspaper ABC to call him ‘the George Borrow of the High-Speed Train Era’. El País praised him for ‘going beyond the clichés and giving a portrait of the real country’.  The Factory of Light (2003) a picaresque memoir written in and about the small village of Frailes, established him as a local celebrity in Andalucia. He participated in conferences, radio interviews, lectured on specialist tours, and took part in the Alhambra Hay Festivals and he made many local and international friends among writers, photographers and gastronomers.

In 2006, Michael’s interest was ignited by letters from his Jewish grandfather from Hull, who worked in Chile and Bolivia with the Andean railways, to his grandmother. Michael followed his grandfather Bethel’s footsteps, and wrote Ghost Train through the Andes.  In a major journey in 2010, Michael intertwined geography, history and 19th and scary 21st century revolutionaries together in The Andes. His last book, The Robber of Memories (2013), was a skilful and poignant travelogue down the Magdalena river in Colombia, woven in with the experience of his parents’ loss of memory from dementia and Alzheimers, and also the similar plight of his literary hero, Gabríel García Márquez.

He loved cooking and entertaining, and was a member of the Andalucían Academy of Gastronomy, and was the first foreigner to be made a knight of The Very Noble and Illustrious Order of the Wooden Spoon.  He once commented that the food of Spain was the story of Spain.  Several of his book launches were held at the restaurant, Moro, in Exmouth Market whose owners, Sam and Sam Clark, were good friends.

Shortly before his death Michael married his long time partner, and first reader of his books, Jackie Rae, and he was working on a book on Velázquez’ Las Meninas for Granta.

A measure of how much he was admired and loved in Spain, was that within two days of his death, obituaries were published in El Pais, and in the Granada newspaper Granada Hoy,  praising him as an intellectual full of life, with passion reminiscent of Don Quijote and the good humour of Sancho Panza.

Michael Jacobs will be missed by friends and Hispanophiles everywhere for his energy, love of life and adventure, for his knowledge and learning lightly worn, and for his hospitality, friendship and modesty.

Gail Turner Mooney

Artes Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarships

collcortes_logoARTES is delighted to announce that thanks to the generous support of art dealers Coll & Cortés, we can now award a number of travel scholarships to final year undergraduates and postgraduate students registered for a full or part-time degree course at a UK university who are working on any aspect of Spanish, Portuguese or Latin American visual culture before 1800. The deadline for all applications is 31st January and the Scholarship Committee usually informs successful applicants by 1st March. Winners are normally expected to attend a special awards ceremony at the Spanish Embassy in London in July. Students may apply for up to £1000 towards the costs of travel to Spain, Portugal or Latin America for research purposes (which may include field work, attendance at a conference, or other recognised forms of research). Please read the guidelines below.

Scholarship application guidelines.

  1. Applications should be made in English as a single MS Word or PDF file and sent to artesscholarships@gmail.com . Applicants are requested to include ‘Travel Scholarship’ in the email subject, but should not expect acknowledgement of receipt.
  2. All applications should include: a) project title, b) a max 100-word project summary, c) a max 600-word explanation of the research to be conducted (including explanation of the necessity of travel); d) a short breakdown of how the money will be spent, together with details of any other funding received; e) an academic CV. Applicants should ensure that an academic advisor sends a reference to the same email address by the 31st January deadline: this may be in English, Spanish or Portuguese. Applications without a reference will not be considered.
  3. Candidates may apply for any other scholarship or award offered by ARTES, but are unlikely to be successful in more than one category in any one year.
  4. Application is open to any student or scholar who can demonstrate compliance with the criteria set out above, other than employees of Coll & Cortés, committee members of ARTES, or their immediate families. Scholarships are not awarded to students who have not yet begun their programme of study, are valid for one year only, and are not renewable. Applications may be submitted for travel conducted in the 12 months prior to the submission deadline, though funding for such trips is likely to be considered less urgent than for forthcoming trips that would not be possible without funding.
  5. Applications will be assessed according to the following criteria: Originality of research, significance of research, feasibility of successful completion, academic rigour (command of the field, spelling, fluency etc), potential of the applicant (an assessment of the strength of the CV, taking into account the student’s current status), financial need, value for money, strength of reference, necessity of travel.
  6. Successful scholarship winners are normally informed by 1st March, and are invited to attend a presentation in London in July (exceptions may be made if the costs of attendance at this event are prohibitive). They are required to write a 600-word report on their funded research project, to be sent to artesscholarships@gmail.com within nine months of receipt of the scholarship.
  7. Any publications arising from research supported by these scholarships should include acknowledgement of ARTES.
  8. The scholarships come with no institutional affiliation, and ARTES and Coll & Cortés cannot take responsibility for the support or welfare of scholarship holders.
  9. The decision of the Scholarship Committee shall be final. The Committee reserves the right to make no awards in cases where it deems that applications are not of satisfactory quality. Coll & Cortés and ARTES accept no legal responsibility to any applicant or third party arising from this notice, or the award or otherwise of a scholarship.  The Scholarship Committee will not enter into correspondence with unsuccessful applicants or their academic advisors regarding its decisions.