Oct 27, 2016

The Light of a City I

Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba

Selected Works from the 15th to the 18th Century of the Museum of Cordoba.

A New Iconography
During the 13th and 15th centuries, the presence of Andalusian tradition in Córdoba was still considered important. Artists begin to spread the iconography of the official religion as part of the process of Christianization in the city. Bartolomé Bermejo, Pedro de Córdoba and Alejo Fernández are part of this first generation of artists who, influenced by Flemish and Italian painting, did not hesitate to introduce elements related to Andalusian tradition into their compositions.

The representation of the anatomy in delicate 14th century architectures and fabrics come together in this high-quality anonymous work.

Alejo Fernández was one of the most important painters of this time. The figures begin to become rounder and the architecture acquires a presence influenced by the Italian "Cinquecento" (in the 16th century).

The decorative motifs on this base resemble those of the Andalusian period, used specifically in the 10th century Córdoba Caliphate. This work comes from the Convent of Santa Clara, which was an old mosque.

In smaller scale, donors who paid for this altarpiece, and on an even smaller scale, the Mother Superior of the convent.

Humanist Rhetoric
The 16th century is marked by the triumph of Humanism. In Córdoba, the Humanist painter Pablo de Céspedes returns to the city with the style of Raphael and Michelangelo, after training in Italy. The school that formed around him would introduce Mannerism, repeating their teacher's models and disseminating this new way of thinking. Juan de Peñalosa, Antonio Mohedano, Cristóbal Vela Cobo and Juan Luis Zambrano were part of this school, characterized by the use of mottled compositions, acidic colors, and bulky figures.

The motif in this work is typical of Mannerism. It is based on a concentric spiral, in which the round figure of Mary fills all of the central space, where all eyes are drawn.

Juan de Peñalosa, an outstanding disciple of Céspedes, is recognized for his peculiar style: Herculean figures with complex movements in acidic colors.

Inspiration comes from engravings. When print first appeared, images were spread from Central Europe. Thus, this work follows a San Miguel de Martín de Vos, an engraving made by the flemish HIeronymus Wierix.

The Triumph of Naturalism
Nature and the search for a greater expression of realism leads to a new perspective in art. Theatricality, light contrasts, and great compositions characterize the art of 17th century Córdoba. Antonio del Castillo is the greatest example of this. He dominated the school in the mid-century and left his mark in the next century, when people would repeat his compositions.

Calvary—a symbolic motif by Antonio del Castillo, made for the Plenary Hall of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. In producing it, he was inspired by prints of central European works, as always.

A dead Christ that unites the divine and the human with his deathly complexion. A tight, precise stroke defines a delicate anatomical form, revealing Castillo's skill for drawing.

The Virgin and Saint John speak to the viewer's emotions and feelings. The Virgin sorrowful, and Saint John in tears, both wrapped in heavy coats, on which Castillo details every fold.

In the background, a beautiful Jerusalem in the darkness, and an idealized reconstruction of Solomon round off the composition. At the foot of the cross are the bones of Adam, as the redemption of mankind.

As an assignment from the important Guild of Silversmiths of Cordoba, Juan de Valdés Leal produced this wonderful "Immaculate Conception with Saint Eloy and Saint Anthony", known as "The Virgen of Silversmiths."

Saint Eloy is the patron of the Guild of Silversmiths. Valdés has portrayed him in an outfit rich in detail, and most likely with the face of a real person from that time.

You can't help but notice, on the plinth that is supporting the Virgin, some gold work that pays pictorial homage to the Guild that ordered it.

The movement and sensationalism of the composition are accentuated by angels and cherubs, which surround Mary carrying symbols of the Litany.

It is part of the decoration of the staircase of the Dominican Convent of San Pablo. Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Catherine of Alexandria are engaged in a mystical conversation amongst ruins.

One of the most original contributions of Antonio del Castillo were the "historiejas." These are small- and medium-sized compositions of natural landscapes in which people are secondary elements.

They generally had a moralistic narrative content, and are among the more intellectual works that Castillo produced.

Replicating nature, and Castillo's style, triumphed in Cordovan society, where this type of work was in demand.

In an effected and complicated play on perspectives, this small work was made for the "counter" of the Cathedral of Granada. It took Castillo's fame beyond the confines of Córdoba.

Nature Drawn
Interest in nature finds its main ally in drawing Notes and high-quality studies became more common from the 17th century. In Córdoba, Antonio del Castillo was known for his great production, versatility and quality.

One of the best preserved of the museum's drawings, this work by José de Ribera recounts, theatrically and with a great sense of movement, the moment when Delilah cut Samson's hair.

A beautiful design illustrating the relationship between Antonio del Castillo and the sculptor Bernabé Gómez del Río. Castillo produced this sketch for Gómez del Río to then make it in stone.

This Archangel Saint Raphael is the sketch for a well-known canvas of the same subject. In this drawing, he has used a reed pen which leaves a characteristic imprint.

Long periods in a farmhouse surrounded by nature made Castillo a great connoisseur of the outdoors, and this can be seen clearly in this picture which, unusually, has a poem on the other side.

The Essence of Color
The 18th century explores the assumptions of the previous century. The search for harmonious proportions and color are the main aspects of the work of Cordovan painter, Acisclo Antonio Palomino. Locally, Cordovan painting fell into a deep crisis of identity and originality, repeating the patterns of Antonio del Castillo without much success.

Antonio Palomino was a theoretician as well as painter, essayist and biographer. His works portray delicate, elongated figures and a refined use of color, as reflected in this composition.

This work by Jose Ignacio Cobo y Guzman is part of the Life of Saint Peter Nolasco series, which he made for the "Casa-Madre" (home) of the Cordovan Mercedarians.

Here, the miracle of his birth is told. As he is born, a swarm of bees create a honeycomb in his hand.

In the child's hand, a lost honeycomb dripping with honey can be found. The honey is a metaphor for the number of people who would be attracted to the church.

Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba
Credits: Story

The Light of a City I

Organised by:
Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba
Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía

Curated by: Manuel Aguayo Marmolejo.
Texts: Manuel Aguayo Marmolejo.
Photography: Álvaro Holgado, Manuel Pijuán y Google Art Camera.
Digital Edition: Manuel Aguayo Marmolejo

Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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