After the Reconquest Spain entered what is referred to as its Golden Age, a time when the arts and their civilization flourished with the influx of wealth and power brought from colonizing the New World. It was what you might call an almost wild growth, as this Empire which was in its toddler years was suddenly in possession of a large amount of gold and resources. The way that art and literature branched out from other Rennaisannce styles was definitely influenced by this swell of wealth and also the country’s formation of a national identity under Catholic rule.
Much of Spanish art at the time was influenced heavily by Italian masters such as Caravaggio and Titian, due to the close ties that Ferdinand of Aragon kept with Florence. There was a steady flow and exchange of both painters and ideas between Sevilla, Valencia, and Florence at this time, and also, Spain had control of Naples from the early 1500s to the early 1700s.
However, especially in the earlier examples, Spanish art of this period has slight Medieval overtones, and much of the religious art (which was of course a rather prominent theme!) has a mystic bent to it. As a reaction to the Reformation and Spain’s strong alliance with the Catholic Church, and their cultural identity as Catholics as a people, these religious pieces are marked by this sense of the religious mystery.
5 Notable painters are: (and this is by no means an exhaustive list!)
1. Juan van der Hamen: the son of a Flemish aristocrat at the court in Madrid, known for incredibly realistic depicitions of still life.
^”Stillleben mit Süßigkeiten und Keramik“
2. Jusepe de Ribera: a Spanish painter who had settled in Naples, known for religious works full of emotional depictions of the faithful.
^”The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, 1634“
3. Francisco de Zurbarán: a Sevillano painter commissioned by many religious foundations between 1620 and 1635, known for a sober and restrained style.
4. Bartolomé Murillo: Zurbarán’s successor, known for his animated engaging style with a penchant for narrative.
^”Christ the Good Shepherd”
5. Diego de Velázquez: who was in the service of Phillip IV, and known for his paintingd of the Royal Court.
^”Prince Baltasar Carlos on Horseback”