Thursday, October 09, 2008

Counter-Reformation Art

Francisco Pacheco 1564-1654
La Virgen del Rosario/ The Virgin of the Rosary
Oil on canvas 108 x 82 cm.
Iglesia de la Magdalena. Sevilla. España

Francisco Pacheco 1564-1654
Don Diego González de Mendoza
Oil on canvas 23 x 18 cm.
Private collection. Sevilla. España.

Diego Velázquez (1599-1660)
Portrait of Francisco Pacheco del Río (1564-1654) 1619
Oil on canvas. (40x36 cm).
Museo del Prado, Madrid

From 21st October 2009 to 24th January 2010, The National Gallery in London will be presenting an exhibition entitled The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600 - 1700

‘The Sacred Made Real’ will explore how painters and sculptors in 17th Century Spain ("the hyper-realists") combined their skills to create arrestingly real depictions of the saints, the Immaculate Conception and the Passion of Christ and other scenes firmly within the canons of the Spanish Counter-Reformation Church.

In addition to important canvases by Velázquez, Zurbarán and Cano, the exhibition features sculptures carved by Gregorio Fernández, Juan Martínez Montañés and Pedro de Mena and polychromed by Francisco Pacheco and Alonso Cano. The exhibition will allow comparison between the sculptures and the paintings.

Pacheco is not considered to be a great painter, but he is remembered for his theoretical work Arte de la pintura. The book is the most important contribution to Spanish artistic theory in the 17th century

In 1616 Pacheco was appointed Veedor del Oficio de Pintores by the municipal government of Seville, and in 1618 the Tribunal of the Inquisition named him Veedor de Pintura Sagrada, in which position he was required to inspect and censor the work of his colleagues in Seville.

Velázquez and Alonso Cano were his pupils. Velázquez also became his son-in-law.

His Arte de la pintura, was published in 1649, five years after his death. In the book he assembled a number of earlier theoretical treatises, as well as describing his own views, which were profoundly influenced by Counter-Reformation ideology.

His decision to write the work probably stemmed from the discussions that took place in Seville among the circle of noblemen, clerics, humanists, artists and literary figures that used to gather in his studio.

The most distinguished of its members was Fernando Enríquez de Ribera, 3rd Duque de Alcalá, but it also included the poet Francisco de Rioja, the antiquarian and collector Rodrigo Caro, the Jesuit priest Juan de Pineda and the poet and painter Juan de Jaureguí (c. 1566–1641).

The appendix contains an extensive description of "acceptable"iconographic formulae. This was intended to ensure the most orthodox portrayal of every religious subject and was scrupulously based on scriptural texts

Pacheco’s views on art were far more influential than his painting.. His theoretical writings were greatly respected by the painters of his own generation, as well as by later artists.