Spanish Golden Age Painting

From a political point of view the Spanish Golden Age lasted from the mid fifteenth till the late sixteenth centuries, but paradoxically reached a cultural and artistic climax when the country was in a state of political and economic decline, between the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In a time as significant as the Spanish Golden Age from a religious and historical point of view, the surrounding influences of class, gender, and religion, including issues of patronage, are extremely important. In order to understand the circumstances surrounding and influencing the artists discussed, attention will be given to the surrounding historical circumstances, while biographical details will be used to connect the work of art with the surrounding historical factors. At the same time, the unpredictability with which artistic genius reacts to its surrounding circumstances will be respected at all times.
Research Question
Discuss Power and Control in Spanish Golden Age painting , focussing on the visual image as a representation of the social order in Spain’s Golden Age (15th-17th centuries) and the influence on the Catholic Counter Reformation in Spain.
An overview will be given of the historic and religious circumstances surrounding the following Spanish artists from the golden age: Sofonisba Anguissola (1532- 1625) El Greco (born as Domenikos Theotokopolos (1541-1614), Francisco de Zurbaran, (1598-1664) and Diego Velsquez (1599-1660).
The study also intends to show how these historical and religious factors have influenced each individual artist and his or her work, depending on his or her class or race. The works that will be discussed are a self portrait by Anguissola, a self-portrait of the Zurbaran as St Luke
Painting the Crucifixion, a portrait by El Greco of The Great Inquisitor Don Fernando Nino de Guevara and Velsquez’s famous Portrait of Pope Innocent X and Las Meninas.
In the case of the female Anguissola it will be shown how her class as a noble woman and her piety in a Spain after Isabella, when the Virgin cult was flourishing, helped her to be recognized in court circles at a time when female artists were almost non-existent, and on the other hand, how she was restricted by her gender.
In the case of El Greco the fact that he was a foreigner in Toledo at a time when the Counter Reformation was combined with a xenophobic hatred for Jews and Muslims, his rejection by King Phillip II and his patronage by clerics with whom he was surrounded had an influence on a creativity which nevertheless remained enigmatic.
In the case of Francisco de Zurbaran the influence of his religious patrons on his work and life are more obvious: combining naturalism with religious sensibility, conforming to the guidelines, for counter reformation artists outlined by the Council of Trent. (Mans, 1)
History of Spain

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