CEEH Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica

The Zurbarán Centre (Durham University) announces appointment of fellowships underwritten by CEEH at The Spanish Gallery, Bishop Auckland

Xanthe Brooke, formerly curator at the National Museums Liverpool, will produce a book on the iconography of the medieval Castilian Ferdinand III as king and 17th-century saint of the Hispanic world. Her working hypothesis regarding The Spanish Gallery’s portrait by Murillo is that it was conceived as a vera effigies, using the previous medieval iconography and the study of the king’s body in its tomb prior to the 1671 fiestas, to produce a startlingly naturalistic image of Ferdinand as saint. By doing so Murillo ignored the authorised iconography followed by earlier artists, such as Francisco Zurbarán and Francisco Pacheco, and contemporaries such as Juan de Valdés Leal and Pedro Roldán. He also ignored the needs of church authorities, especially Seville Cathedral, and possibly the Habsburg monarchy, for a more ‘stereotypically’ cult image of the saint, of whom he then painted at least two more acceptable images, emphasising his religious role as heavenly intercessor and monarch, using a ‘Christ-like’ facial iconography.

Piers Baker-Bates, visiting research associate at The Open University, is currently researching on Spanish-Italian cultural relations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, based on the premise that a full understanding of the image culture of the Spanish imperial world that reached its greatest extent in that period must take into account the Italian experience of both artists and patrons. Several of the major artists, both Spanish and Italian, who took part in a constantly developing Spanish-Italian cultural dialogue are represented in the collection. The earliest is Juan de Juanes, by whom The Spanish Gallery contains a Holy Family and a Crucifixion, who may or may not have travelled to Italy himself, but who was certainly influenced by the works of art by Sebastiano del Piombo that reached his native Valencia. Moving to later in the century, a pair of Penitent Magdalene by Luis Tristán and Juan Bautista Maíno, a Saint Anthony of Padua by the latter and Orazio Borgianni’s Annunciation are examples of this cultural dynamic in the years around 1600. A monographic study of this group of works will be published as a result of the fellowship.

More information about these fellowships

Video: The Making of The Spanish Gallery