The Industrial Arts in Spain by Juan F Riano - HTML preview

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The name of custodia is given in Spain, not only to the monstrance or ostensoir where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, but also to a sort of temple or tabernacle, of large size, made also of silver, inside which is placed the monstrance, which is carried in procession on Corpus Christi day. In order to distinguish these objects one from another, the name of viril is given to the object which holds the consecrated host; it is generally made of rock crystal, with a gold stem and mount ornamented with precious stones. The small tabernacles are generally objects of the greatest importance both from their artistic and intrinsic value. The description of one of them will be sufficient to give an idea of their construction.

Although a fine custodia existed formerly at Toledo, which we know weighed 164 pounds, Cardinal Ximenez de Cisneros wished a finer one to be made, and caused the plan to be furnished by competition. Diego Copin, Juan de Borgoña, and Enrique de Arphe presented designs; the one by Enrique de Arphe was selected. Arphe began his work in 1517, and continued exclusively employed in this, and without the help of other master silversmiths, until April, 1524, when he gave up the monstrance to the authorities of the cathedral. The silversmith, Lainez, finished in 1523 the gold and jewelled cross which is on the top. It represents a Gothic hexagonal temple, 8 feet high, of three orders, with all the variety and number of necessary architectural details such as pilasters, arches, columns, pyramids, canopies, crest-work, &c., to the closing of the vaulted roof; the whole is percé à jour, and so delicate that it looks like lace. From the roof hang bells and incense-holders of filigree work; in the key-stone are studded precious gems. Carvings in relief, representing passages of the life of Our Saviour, appear on the base of the six pedestals; they are admirably carved. In the centre of the second order is a figure representing the Resurrection of Our Lord. On the pilasters and brackets which appear in the temple there are more than 260 statues of different sizes, all of which are executed with the same skill. This monstrance was mounted on iron wires; and Archbishop Fonseca, wishing that the whole of it should be made of silver, gave orders that Arphe himself should alter it, which he did in 1525, when the total weight was found to be 388 pounds. The viril was then placed inside it, this was made of the first gold brought from America. It is completely covered with precious stones, and was bought by Cisneros from Queen Isabel (the Catholic); it weighs 29 pounds of gold. The tabernacle was ordered to be gilt in 1595 by Archbishop Quiroga; this was done by the Masters Diego de Valdivieso and Francisco Merino. This splendid work of art remains in this state, and may be seen at the cathedral of Toledo; it was most fortunately saved from the rapacity of the French, by being sent to Cadiz during the war. In 1513 the monstrance at the cathedral of Cordova was also made by Arphe, it is similar in style and importance to that of Toledo. Before this, he had also finished the splendid one formerly at Leon, which was destroyed by the French, as was likewise a similar smaller one, also by Arphe, formerly at the Monastery of St. Benito, at Sahagun.

The custodia made by Juan de Arphe in 1587, a Leonese artist, and grandson of Enrique, for the cathedral of Seville, competes with that of Toledo. It is formed in the same manner as a temple, but in the Græco-Roman style, covered with an immense number of statuettes, some of which are upwards of a foot high, and reliefs of all kinds, and delicate ornamentation, worked with the utmost skill. The chapter of the cathedral commissioned the theologian, Francisco Pacheco, to direct the subjects which were to be represented, and when it was finished Arphe published a full description of the monstrance, which he does not hesitate to call "the largest and finest work in silver known of its kind." This opinion is hardly an exaggerated one if we look at this splendid work of art. Its plan is circular, and measures 3½ yards high, and weighs 1082 pounds of silver. For details consult Cean Bermudez' "Diccionario," Descripcion de la Catedral de Sevilla, Museo Español de Antiguedades, vol. viii., p. I.

Besides these two celebrated silversmiths there was another of the same family, the son of Enrique, and father of Juan, Antonio Arphe, an artist also of great merit, who made in 1554 the custodia which still exists at the cathedral of Santiago.

Cean Bermudez says in his "Diccionario," "that in the same manner as the city of Leon gave Spain three illustrious silversmiths, Cuenca gave them other three in the Becerrils," these were Alonso and Francisco Becerril brothers, and Christoval, the son of Francisco. They all worked at the famous and splendid custodia of Cuenca, and between them they produced a most important series of works from 1528 to 1584.

It is extremely difficult to give in so small a space the description of the works and names of the numerous artists on silver and gold work, who worked in Spain during the 16th century. At the present time, notwithstanding the innumerable objects lost, a long list would remain of the specimens which have reached us, and their different forms and applications, still visible in the churches of Toledo, Seville, Zaragoza, Palencia, Santiago, and others of the Spanish peninsula. Some idea may be gathered of the importance this art attained in Spain by looking through the following list of artists who worked in silver and gold, upwards of 450 of whom I have added to the 95 given by Cean in his dictionary. It must be borne in mind that the objects on a large scale which reproduce an architectural model, adopt three styles during the century, all three of them admirable as regards beauty of form. The first is Gothic, a reminiscence of the former time, improved by the change which had already taken place, in drawing and modelling. The second style is known by the name of plateresque, when applied to architecture, and consists in copying the general structure of buildings in the classical style, and applying the orders and pointed arch, while keeping to the profusion of decoration of the earlier period, and modifying the general plan with the object of introducing the greatest quantity of ornamentation. The third style is the Greco-Roman; it is more sober in decoration, and has a greater tendency to keep to the imitation of the classical school.

Besides the objects described, which may be considered as original works and the most important examples of Spanish silversmiths' work, I must mention those which came from South America, chiefly from Mexico, which possess a certain aspect; they consist of carved and repoussé work ornamented with flora of the country adapted in an oriental style; others consist of filigree work, double-headed crowned eagles are frequently met with in the same style as those made at Cordova and Salamanca.

There are interesting specimens at the Kensington Museum which give an excellent idea of Spanish silversmiths' work. Besides those already described attention must be drawn to

No. 305-66. A silver-gilt cross ornamented with foliage, statuettes of saints and the Evangelists with their emblems, Marked NOE/M. About 1560. Height 3 feet 2 inches.

No. 302-66. Silver-gilt chalice, ornamented with foliated scroll work and half figures beaten and chiselled. Marked Estorga. About 1540.

No. 132-73. A silver-gilt chalice, the bowl inscribed outside "+ Sangvis mevs vere est potvs;" the stem is of baluster form, in several tiers, ornamented with brackets and large chatons set with crystal, and a band of cherubim. The foot is chased with masques, festoons, harpies, and birds, and surrounded by eight semicircular projections, on which are an armorial shield and a cross set with emeralds and lapis lazuli. Engraved at bottom "S. I. de Salinas." [See woodcut] With it is a paten dated 1549.

 

 SPANISH CHALICE. SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

No. 481-75. Chalice, silver-gilt; the bowl chased in relief with the instruments of the Passion; on the knop are ten applied figures of Apostles on ground of translucent blue enamel; the foot, which has eight semicircular projections, is repoussé with representations of the Evangelists, cherub and other heads, the Crucifixion, and a shield with the initials L. B. P. around a crown of thorns enclosing a heart. 17th century. [See woodcut, p. 31.]

No. 314-64. Silver-gilt pax of architectural design; in the centre is a group in full relief of the Virgin giving the chasuble to St. Ildefonso. About 1540-50. [See woodcut, p. 33.]

No. 1129-64. Incense holder, boat-shaped, of rock crystal mounted in silver-gilt. Around the rim is a band of guilloche pattern, set with amethysts and garnets; on the lids a band inscribed "Oratio mea dirigatur sicut incensum." About 1540-50.

 

 SPANISH CHALICE. SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

No. 93-65. Silver triptych with suspending chain, the interior painted in oils, the exterior engraved in arabesque. About 1550.

We find that Spanish jewels were as magnificent in the 16th century as were the large architectural objects for ecclesiastical use. One of the most important in richness and artistic merit was the splendid crown belonging to the Virgen del Sagrario at Toledo, which it is deeply to be regretted disappeared in 1868. This crown was made in 1556 by the silversmith Hernando de Carrion; it then consisted of a gold circle with chiselled and enamelled ornamentation, set with pearls, emeralds and rubies. In 1574 Cardinal Loaisa wished to enrich it, and ordered a silver worker called Alejo de Montoya to add to it an upper part, formed as an imperial crown, which Montoya agreed to do by a special agreement. This addition was formed of small figures of angels of enamelled gold, in pairs supporting the side bands, which met in the upper part forming a group of allegorical figures, upon which was placed a spherical emerald, without a flaw, 1½ inches in diameter, which served as a base to the cross. The bands were studded with precious stones and ornamented inside with subjects of the life of the Blessed Virgin in enamel. The height of this crown was 10½ inches by 8½ wide. Montoya took 12 years to do this work—he finished it in 1586. The fine bracelets belonging to this crown, which have also disappeared, were made at the same time by Julian Hernando.

The jewels worn by the Spanish kings and grandees were equally magnificent. In the description of the gems which Prince Don Carlos, the son of Philip II, left to be distributed at his death, are included a sword the hilt of which was of solid gold enamelled in different colours: this Don Carlos bequeathed to the Grand Master of the Order of St. John:—a halberd composed of 27 pieces of enamelled gold in high relief; and a sword with gold mount enamelled in colours with masks, medals and festoons in the Roman style, made by Rodrigo Reynalti. Consult "Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos para la Historia de España," vol. 27, Madrid, 1855. I owe to the courtesy of Count Valencia de Don Juan, the following description of arms made by Toto platero de su Alteza in 1554. [Archives of Simancas legajo, No. 37.] These arms belonged to Prince Don Carlos.

 

 SPANISH PAX. SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

A gold sword, the cross of which is ornamented with masks of white, grey, and black enamel.

A gold dagger, and sword-belt belonging to the same sword, ornamented in a similar manner.

Also a gold sword, belt and dagger ornamented with figures of children in solid gold and enamel.

Although the greater part of these silversmiths were Spaniards, the Milanese artist, Jacome de Trezzo was very celebrated during the reign of Philip II. He made several jewels of great importance for the king and royal family. The splendid tabernacle which was taken by the French in 1810 from the Escorial was one of his finest works; they carried off at the same time the superb shrines, the gifts of kings and princes, and everything they could lay their hands on of gold and silver, loading ten campaign carts. Consult, "Historia del Escorial," by Quevedo. Madrid, 1849, p. 220.

At the South Kensington Museum are several objects of this kind, which will give an excellent idea of Spanish jewel work.

No. 334-70. A gold enamelled pendant, in form of a chained dog, supported on a scroll from which small pearls depend, and suspended by two chains of alternate enamelled and plain links, united to a fastening crowned by a bird.

No. 335-70. Enamelled gold pendant in form of a pelican and her young, enriched with a carbuncle and pearls, and suspended by pearl links.

No. 336-70. Enamelled gold pendant in form of a dog enriched with jewels.

No. 337-70. Enamelled gold pendant, in form of a parrot, set with hyacinth, suspended by chains.

No.340-70. Enamelled gold pendant representing the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.

Nos. 341 and 342-70. Pendants representing the Virgen del Pilar Saragossa, attended by saints. [See woodcut opposite.]

 

 SPANISH JEWEL, 17TH CENTURY. SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

Spanish jewel work does not decrease during the 17th century, the number of artists who worked was very great, and the quantity of objects of all kinds which were made by them to enrich the shrines of churches, and the houses of grandees, was remarkable, although their artistic merit was far inferior to the work of the 16th century. The general decay of art, which produces in Europe the barroco style, appears in Spain more exaggerated and to a greater extent than elsewhere. The objects made during this period reproduce until the beginning of the 18th century the lines and extravagant ornamentation which we meet with in architecture, the handiwork however continued to be excellent, and no expense was spared to give an aspect of richness to the objects made.

 

 SILVER DISH. SPANISH, 17TH CENTURY. SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

The large quantity of objects of all kinds made of silver, and the quantity also used in wearing apparel, gave rise to constant prohibitions restricting its use from the reign of Ferdinand and Isabel, and even to a far greater extent at the beginning of the 16th century. In a Decree, issued at Madrid in 1594, "it is forbidden to make or sell cabinets, escritoires, caskets, brasiers, chapines (clogs), tables, commodes decorated with silver, either beat in repoussé, stamped, carved or plain, and whoever makes, sells, or buys them, is to lose them." Notwithstanding this and other restrictions which appeared in the 17th century, this abuse can hardly have been checked, judging by the number of these objects which have reached us, not counting those preserved in the shrines of Spanish churches and cathedrals.

The luxury which was apparent in this century of great decay for Spain will be found in the numerous descriptions which exist of different feasts and ceremonies.

A good idea may be had of this style of silversmiths' work from the silver dishes in the South Kensington Museum. An engraving of one of these appears on the preceding page.

 

 BREAST ORNAMENT SET WITH EMERALDS. SPANISH, LATE 17TH CENTURY. SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

During the 17th century, jewellery underwent a complete transformation—the proceedings and renaissance forms of the Italian school were abandoned, with all their richness of sculptures, enamels, and variety of stones. Instead of this, jewels were formed of emeralds, diamonds or rubies in gold setting, percés à jour, producing an excellent effect. The exceptions to this rule are the objects in which enamelled work still predominates, a reminiscence of the former century. Among the finest and best examples may be mentioned the gold crown of the Virgen de los Desamparados of Toledo, made in Mexico in the 17th century. It is formed like a basket of flowers, of delicate tracery, and richly studded with fine emeralds. Several most interesting specimens exist at Kensington of Spanish jewellery of this kind, bought at the sale which took place in 1870 of the jewels belonging to the Virgen del Pilar at Zaragoza.

No. 325-70 is a breast ornament of gold scroll open work, with enamelled flowers, set with emeralds. [See woodcut on p. 37.]

No. 320-70, a gold breast ornament with five bosses and seven pendants, set with rose diamonds.

No. 406-73. Breast ornament, gold open strap work and floral filigree, the lower part an oval pendant, set with table diamonds. [See woodcut on p. 39.]

The following fine Spanish jewels of the 17th century in the Kensington Museum are also worthy of attention:

No. 330-64. A pectoral cross, with medallions containing relics.

No. 298-66. Gold filigree cross, within which is an ivory crucifix.

No. 344-70. Enamelled gold pectoral cross set with amethysts.

No. 417, 417A.-69. A pair of earrings of gold open work, branches set with white crystals.

No. 323, 323A.-70. Silver open work earrings set with rose diamonds.

No. 330 to 330C.-70. Four miniature ewers of silver filigree open work, the bodies of Chinese enamelled copper.

No. 1224-71. Silver frame repoussé, with the Holy Dove, and a bleeding heart encircled with thorns.

Models of the baroque or, as it is called in Spain, Churrigueresque styles continued to be copied during the beginning of the 18th century, in the same manner as in the 17th century. At this time, as in the rest of Europe, a reaction begins in every branch of art, due in Spain to the influence of French and Italian artists who accompanied the family of Bourbon. The Academy of Fine Arts of St. Fernando was founded by a king of that House towards the middle of the century, the teaching was reduced to copying Greco-Roman models, such as they were understood at that time.

 

 BREAST ORNAMENT SET WITH DIAMONDS. SPANISH, LATE 17TH
CENTURY. SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.

The great centres which in the 16th century had produced such splendid works of art had almost completely ceased. No great silversmiths remained at Valladolid, Leon, Toledo, or Seville. The only localities which have preserved even to the present day the traditional forms of these ornaments are Salamanca, Cordova, Astorga, and Santiago. Madrid absorbed from the middle of the 17th century the whole of this industry. In Larruga's "Memorias," Vol. IV., will be found every detail given on this subject. Several important establishments for the object of making silver work on a large scale were founded at Madrid, the most important being that of Tomas de Buenafuente, which passed after to Francisco Novi. Two Frenchmen called Isaac and Miguel Naudin established a manufactory in 1772. In each the greater part of the work was machine made. Others were founded to cut and polish precious stones, and mount paste stones. This was done with great skill by Antonio Martinez in 1778, in a building fitted up for the purpose, which still exists opposite the Botanical Garden of Madrid. Martinez was pensioned by Charles III. in Paris and London to study the improvements in this industry. The principal object of the manufactory was to teach the technical proceedings required in order to extend this industry in the country, and supply a school in which machinery, models, drawings, &c., were to be met with. Pupils of both sexes were admitted; machinery was made in the workshops, and Martinez undertook to teach the manufacture of gold, doublé, or steel trinkets, with or without enamel or stones. Sword-hilts, buckles, snuff-boxes, needle-cases, handles for sticks, brooches, necklaces, orders, and other different objects, were made either of open work or enamelled gold.

Inkstands, dishes, dinner services, chocolate stands, cruets, knives and forks, were made of silver in different styles, generally imitating the English manner. [Consult Larruga, "Memorias Politicas y Economicas." Madrid, 1789. Vol. IV., p. 116.]

The results obtained by the manufactory of Martinez were most satisfactory; a large number of apprentices were taught there; but their work was completely French in character; the manner and style of the Spanish school of silversmiths was completely forgotten.

As I have already mentioned, the traditional forms were preserved in some localities which require to be mentioned here in order to finish this account of this industry in Spain. An interesting and varied collection of modern Spanish peasant jewellery exists at the South Kensington Museum. Strange to say, although this collection was formed a very few years ago, in 1870, it would be very difficult now to make another; for owing to the means of communication having been of late years so much improved in Spain, the peasantry are leaving off their national costumes, and substituting in every detail modern fashions. Among this peasant jewellery the silver gilt necklace and reliquaries of Astorga, No. 1114-73, deserve special attention. These necklaces were worn round the neck and part of the body. The neck ornaments of gold and seed pearls made at Salamanca, those of silver gilt of Santiago; the filigree work of Cordova in the Moorish style, and the long earrings of Cataluña wnces of older times.

LIST OF SPANISH GOLDSMITHS AND SILVERSMITHS.

 

10TH CENTURY

Years in which

they worked.

 

Residence.

961.

Hudzen ben Bozla, a Moor. He made a silver

casket which exists still at Gerona Cathedral

Gerona.

 

13TH CENTURY

 

Maestre Jorge

Toledo.

 

Modova, Pablo de

Niculas (Don)

Burgos.

1262.

Perez, Juan

Burgos.

 

14TH CENTURY

1357.

Andreu, Raimundo de

Gerona.

1358.

Barners, Pedro

Gerona.

1325.

Bartolomé, Maestro

Gerona.

——

Bernec, Pere, V. Barners

——

1382 to 1393.

Capellades, Pedro

Tortosa.

1378.

Fernai, Rodrigo

Oviedo.

1334.

Frau, Ramon

Palma de Mallorca.

1367.

Martinez, Sancho

Sevilla.

1382 to 1393.

Paris, Pedro de

Tortosa.

1373.

Perpiña, Juan

Valencia.

1370.

Ponce, Bartolomé

Palma de Mallorca.

 

15TH CENTURY

1417.

Abello, Joan

Daroca.

1495.

Alcaçar, Juan de

Toledo.

1477.

Almerique

Barcelona.

1494.

Berenguer, Juan

Valencia.

1499.

Castellano

Toledo.

1454.

Castelnou, Juan de

Valencia.

1460.

Castelnou, Jayme de, son of Juan

Valencia.

1470.

Cetina, Mestre

Valencia.

1458 to 1463.

Diez, Pedro el Cabalan

Toledo.

1494.

Diaz, Thomas

Toledo.

1417.

Diaz, or Diez Caro, Ferrando

Daroca.

1418 to 1426.

Garcia de Valladolid, Alfonso

Toledo.

1438.

Garcia, Alonso

Burgos.

1442.

Garcia de Pielagos, Juan

Burgos.

1477.

Gomez, Garcia

Valencia.

1424 to 1459.

Gonzalez de Madrid, Juan

Toledo.

1477.

Hance

Lorenzo, Don

——

1425.

Medina, Juan de

Toledo

1499.

Medina, Pedro de

Toledo.

1470.

Nadal Yvo, Maestre

Valencia.

1493.

Narbona, Diego

Toledo.

1495.

Nuñez, Alonso

Toledo.

1485.

Oviedo, Fernando de

Burgos.

1487.

Pizarro

Guadalupe.

1457.

Rodriguez de Villareal, Alonso

Toledo.

1459.

Rodriguez de Villareal, Anton

Toledo.

1483.

Rodriguez, Gonzalo

Toledo.

1496.

Rodriguez, Geronimo

Sevilla.

1459.

Rodriguez de Villareal, Lope

Toledo.

1417 to 1423.

Roiz, Pero

Darroca.

1489 to 1491.

Ruby, Maestre

Toledo.

1416.

Ruiz de Astudillo, Alfonso

Burgos.

1431.

Ruiz de Medina

Toledo.

1426.

Ruiz, Juan

Toledo.

1498.

Ruiz, Juan

Toledo.

1404.

Sanchez, Martinez

Sevilla.

1424.

Sanchez, Anton

Toledo.

1417.

Sancho, Manuel Hernando

Burgos.

1487.

Segovia, Fr. Juan de

Guadalupe.

1418.

Valles, Juan

Toledo.

1484 to 1488.

Vigil, Pedro de

Valladolid.

——

Yvo V. Nadal Yvo

——

 

16TH CENTURY

1586.

Abedo de Villandrando, Diego

Madrid.

1531.

Aguirre, Pedro de

Toledo.

1515.

Aleman, Mateo

Sevilla.

——

Aleman, Nicolas

Sevilla.

1596.

Alfaro, Francisco

Sevilla.

1539.

Alonso, Juan

Toledo.

1552.

Alvarez, Baltasar

Palencia.

1568.

Alvarez, Francisco

Madrid.

1531.

Alvarez, Juan

Granada.

1560.