Spanish Renaissance

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The onset of the Spanish Renaissance was closely linked to the historical and political developments that had been set in motion by Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs. They were the first to move away from the medieval conception of a feudal scheme with a weak monarch and a powerful nobility. The Catholic Monarchs joined the emergent state's forces together and allied themselves with the most important noble families in order to enhance their power. One of these families, the Mendoza, used the new style as distinction for their clan, which meant they received the protection of monarchy. Slowly the new Renaissance style took hold in the rest of the court and among the clergy, mixing with purely Iberian styles, such as the Moorish art of the dying kingdom of Granada, the exalted and personal Gothic of the Castilian kingdom and the Flemish style of the official Court and Church paintings. The influence of such elements produced a personal interpretation of the orthodox Renaissance, that came to be called Plateresque. Secondary artists were brought from Italy; apprentices were sent to Italian workshops; designs, architectural plans, books, prints and paintings were all imported from Italy from which characters, themes and compositions were copied. Charles I of Spain, also the Emperor Charles V, was the king who was most closely related to the new artistic movement, paradoxically called "the old way", as it referred back to Classical Antiquity. His direct patronage produced some of the most beautiful works of Spain's unique Renaissance style, for example Charles V's palace in Granada, his patronage of Covarrubias, and his commissions to Titian, who despite many invitations could never be persuaded to move to Spain. Other important painters, away from the nucleus of the court, were Pedro de Berruguete, Juan de Juanes, Pablo de San Leocadio (whose delicate Virgin with a Knight of Montesa is particularly notable), Yáñez de la Almedina and Fernando de los Llanos. Spanish Renaissance paintings were usually done in oil. The interiors were subjected perfectly to the rules of perspective. The figures were all the same size and were anatomically correct. The colours and shading were done in tonal ranges, according to Italian teaching. To accentuate the Italian style elements copied directly from it were often added, such as ornamentation of candelieri (borders of plants and little cupids around the frame) or Roman ruins in the scenery, even in scenes from the life of Jesus.


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