Baroque School of Seville


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Seville's important commercial port meant that the city was literally the gateway to America. All transatlantic goods entering Spain had to pass through Seville and anyone wishing to export to the New World had to do so via the Andalusian capital. Furthermore, the colonial Empire was governed from this city, which implied an important administrative presence of the viceroyalties. The ecclesiastical missionary networks were also controlled from Seville, and as a consequence all the Orders present in America had their seat in Seville. Commerce, economic prosperity and religious fervour were the factors that converted the city into an extremely important cultural centre. Through its port came the stylistic influences that converged to create a broad, rich Baroque. Sevillian painting had two main influences. On one hand there was the Flemish influence, with its traditional aesthetic tending towards "uglism", a style of painting with nervous features, and that was very linear with regards to colouring. The faces of the figures were rather unattractive, especially those of the evil characters. The other influence was Italian, intensified during this period by Venetian painting, with its soft, delicate style and rich colours (this style had a great impact on Murillo's work). Apart from the Venetian aspect there was also the caravaggesque influence, imported to Seville via the work of the Spanish painter, [Ribera#PINTOR#3118], who lived in Naples until his death. This influence produced gloomy paintings with very dark backgrounds in which hardly anything could be distinguished. The figures were strongly illuminated, creating a powerful sense of drama in scenes depicting martyrs or saints. In Seville production was abundant, ready to be exported en masse to the American missions: devotional painting that had become excessively sentimental. Divine portraits were also common, representing real people in the image of their favourite saints. Another important genre that produced paintings of great quality was the still life, to which the method of "trampantojo" (meaning literally deception of the eye) was sometimes applied. This consisted of a still life which often depicted a corner of the artist's workshop, painted with such accuracy that it deceived the human eye into thinking it was real. It was the Spanish equivalent of the French trompe l'oeil. One of the most attractive facets of Seville Baroque were the huge religious canvases commissioned to the great masters. [Francisco Pacheco#PINTOR#2920], Velázquez's master and father-in-law; the young [Velázquez#PINTOR#3652] himself; Zurbarán, who had problems settling in Seville because of the hostility he face from the craftsmen's guild and who was eventually displaced by the innovative Murillo; [Alonso Cano#PINTOR#1487], divided between painting and sculpture, and Ribera, present though his work, although not in person, were Seville's stars with whom not even the powerful emporium of Madrid could compete.

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