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The Best Artists from Andalusia

Malaga, Spain
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The Best Artists from Andalusia

Andalusia is a big and beautiful part of Spain. It has produced many great artists and it is one of the most culturally rich regions of Spain, filled with palaces, museums, and monuments, where one can see great art. Andalusia has been a breeding ground of artists, perhaps because the Andalusians have an innate sense of beauty and love the decorative arts. Perhaps this was inherited from the Moors. When Andalusia was under the Moors there were artists who produced the Mezquita in Cordoba and the Alhambra in Granada.

After the Christian Reconquest and the discovery of America, trade with America was channeled through Seville, which was the only port that the crown allowed to have trade with America. Later Cadiz became the selected port. So all the riches of America passed through Seville, and much of it stayed there and other places of Andalusia. There were cathedrals, churches, monasteries, convents, city halls, and hospitals to be built, so there was a great need for artists and architects and sculptors. Many of these artists were born in Andalusia, or if they were born elsewhere, they spent most of their productive life in Andalusia. The Renaissance and the Baroque Ages reached their full flower in Andalusia.

When one looks at art in the museums of Andalusia today, one will see that some artists have produced much of the great art. Artists in the past could be painters and sculptors and architects at the same time. There was no strict distinction like there is today. This list gives a brief outline of the lives of these artists.

1. Bartolome Bermejo (Born in Cordoba in 1440 - Died in Barcelona in 1498) - Bartolome Bermejo was also known as Bartolome de Cardenas. He was the first Spanish painter to use oil paints and his style was Flemish, since he once studied in Flanders. His style was influenced by Rogier van de Weyden and Jan van Eyck. His art was very decorative because he was able to use harmonious colors. He was able to mix the painting techniques of the Low Countries and Spanish traditions, so his work appealed to his patrons and he became the most celebrated Spanish painter of his period. One of his most important paintings was the center painting of the Triptych of the Virgin of Montserrat in the Acqui Cathedral in Italy.

2. Diego de Riaño (Born in La Trasmiera in Cantabria - Died in Valladolid in 1534)- Diego de Riaño was an outstanding architect during the Renaissance and practiced the Platereque style. He started working in Seville in 1523 at the Cathedral and was made the Maestro Mayor (foreman), working on projects started by others. At the same time he worked on the Colegiata of Valladolid. One of his projects was the principal sacristy of the Seville Cathedral. He designed the Ayuntamiento of Seville in 1526, the first Renaissance public building of the city. The ornamentation of this building is very impressive and is in the Plateresque style. This style was used only in Spain between the 15th and 17 centuries. Diego de Riaño worked on many other churches in Andalusia during his lifetime.

3. Pedro Machuca (Born in Toledo in 1490 - Died in Granada in 1550) - Pedro Machuca was a painter and architect and one of the first persons who used the Mannerist style in Spain. In 1515 he went to Italy (Rome and Florence), where he worked with Michaelangelo, Pontormo, and Raphael. In 1520 he returned to Spain, specifically Granada. He worked as a painter in the Capilla Real in the Cathedral of Granada. He also worked in Toledo, Jaen, and Ucles. He did not paint too many pictures. Two good paintings are in the Prado, namely La Virgen de Las Animas and the Descendimiento. Pedro Machuca is remembered for his work as an architect, the person who designed the Palace of Charles V in the Alhambra. This was the first Renaissance building in Spain. It showed how the Christians wanted to challenge the Moorish architecture in Granada. Part of the Alhambra was destroyed to build this Italianate palace in 1528.

4. Diego de Siloe (Born in Burgos in 1490 - Died in Granada in 1563) - Diego de Siloe was a Spanish Mannerist sculptor and architect. He led the transition from the Gothic to the Renaissance in Spanish art. Most of his work was done in Andalusia. His father was Gil de Siloe, a sculptor. Diego de Siloe studied art in Naples and returned in 1519 to Burgos to work on some projects for the Cathedral. He did the Golden Staircase in that cathedral. In 1528 he went to Granada and worked there until the end of his life as an architect. He designed the church of the Monastery of San Jeronimo, including the tomb of the Gran Capitan. He designed the Cathedral of Granada, one of the best works of the early Renaissance in Spain. His rich decoration and his lines and curves were a forerunner of the Plateresque style. Other famous designs were the Sacra Capilla del Salvador in Ubeda, the Cathedrals of Almeria, Malaga, Guadix, Guadalajara in Mexico, and Lima and Cuzco in Peru.

5. Andres de Vandelvira (Born in Alcaraz in Albacete in 1509 - Died in Jaen in 1575) - Andres de Vandelvira was one of the most important Renaissance architects of Spain. Most of his work took place in the cities of Ubeda and Baeza in Jaen. In 1536 he became in charge of the work on the Church of El Salvador in Ubeda. He became the favorite of Francisco de los Cobos, who was the secretary of the king Carlos V. The Church of El Salvador was started by Diego de Siloe, so Vandelvira learned many things during his contacts with Siloe. Later Vandelvira worked on the Chapel of the Benavides in the Convent of San Francisco in Baeza, the Cathedral of Baeza, the Old Convent of Santo Domingo de La Guardia in Jaen, the Hospital of Santiago in Ubeda. His most impressive work was the Cathedral of Jaen. In Ubeda he constructed the Palace of the Vazquez de Molina and the Casa de las Cadenas. Vandelvira invented the pendentive dome, a dome that rests on a square base. Many churches in Mexico copied his plans for the Jaen Cathedral. Vandelvira left many detailed notes of his work, with instructions on how to construct buildings. These were published by his son on Vandelvira's death. These notes were one of his best legacy, as well as the beauty of Ubeda and Baeza, where most of his work took place.

6. Hernán Ruiz Jimenez (Born in Cordoba in 1514 - Died in Seville in 1569) - Hernan Ruiz Jimenez was also called Hernan Ruiz II, or El Mozo, to distinguish him from this father, Hernan Ruiz, El Viejo. His son was Hernan Ruiz III and all three were architects and worked successively on the same projects, mostly in Andalusia. Hernan Ruiz Jimenez was one of the first Renaissance architects in Spain. He worked on the Mezquita of Cordoba, transforming it into a Catholic church. In Seville he worked on the Cathedral (many chapels and the Giralda), the Ayuntamiento, and the Parliament. His work was very prolific and he designed and constructed many churches, convents, hospitals, and secular buildings in all of Andalusia. In Malaga he designed the main altarpiece in the Church of San Ciriaco and Santa Paula. Among his work in Seville were the Cartuja de Santa Maria de las Cuevas, the Church of La Anunciacion, the Hospital de las Cinco Llagas, the Hospital del Amor de Dios, the Convent of Santa Maria del Valle, the Convent of San Agustin, the Church of San Pedro, and the Church of San Vicente.

7. Juan Sánchez Cotán (Born in Orgaz, Toledo, in 1560 - Died in Granada in 1627) - Juan Sanchez Cotan studied with the artist Blas de Prado and late produced may still-lifes and became very successful in Toledo, patronized by the aristocracy of that city. He was a very religious man and in 1603 he decided to become a monk and went to Granada to the Carthusian monastery there. He is considered as one of the pioneers of Baroque realism in Spain. He is considered as one of the best European still-life painters, and his style influenced Zurbaran. His paintings were called bodegones. Every form in his paintings is scrutinized with intensity and his paintings were quiet and austere, with an illusion of depth. His most famous painting is Quince, Cabbage, Melon, Cucumber, which is in the San Diego Museum of Art. In the cloister of the Granada Monastery, he has eight great narrative paintings.

8. Juan Martínez Montañes (Born in Alcala la Real in Jaen in 1568 - Died in 1649) - Juan Martinez Montañes was one of Spain's greatest sculptors. He studied under Pablo de Rojas in Granada and later settled in Seville, where most of his works are to be found. He was called the Sevillian Phidias, but he worked mostly in wood. One of his masterpieces was the Christ of Clemency, which is found in the Seville Cathedral. His statues were polychromed and showed drama and pathos, as well as realism and beauty. In 1635 he went to Madrid to prepare a model for the bronze equestrian statue of King Philip IV. This was sent to Florence, where Pietro Tacca made the bronze statue, which is now found in the Plaza del Oriente. While he was in Madrid, Diego Velazquez painted his portrait, which is now found in the Prado. He founded a workshop where he taught many other young artists his techniques. Montañes achieved great fame during his lifetime.

9. Francisco Herrera (the Elder) (Born in Seville in 1576 - Died in Madrid in 1656) - Francisco Herrera was a painter, etcher, medallist, and architect. He first studied with Luis Fernandez. He broke away from the timid Italian style of his day and pioneered the bold, vigorous, and natural style. He was the first one to leave Mannerism and go to the Baroque style. Velasquez was thirteen when he studied with Herrera for a year. He is attributed to be the founder of the Spanish School. His biggest problem was his temper and rough manners that alienated many people, including his son, who left for Rome, and his daughter, who entered a nunnery to escape from her father. He worked for many years in Seville, but later went on to Madrid in 1638, where he became very successful. One of his masterpieces is St. Basil Dictating his Rule, which is in the Louvre. He has a St. Matthew in the Dresden Gallery. In the Archbishop's Palace in Madrid, he has four large paintings, the most important one being Moses Smiting the Rock.

10. Alonso de Mena y Escalante (Born in Granada in 1587 - Died in Granada in 1646). Alonso de Mena was a famous Baroque sculptor. He did the Santa Lucia in the Cathedral of Granada. In the Church of San Cecilio in Granada is his Virgen de Belen. His more famous works are the Inmaculadas and the retables in the Cathedral of Jaen and in the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral of Granada. His later works include the Dying Christ in the Church of Santa Ana in Granada, the Crucified in the Cathedral of Malaga, and the Christ of the Helpless in the Church of San Jose in Madrid.

11. Francisco de Zurbaran (Born in Fuente de Cantos, Extremadura, in 1598 - Died in Madrid in 1664)- While Zurbaran was born in a small town of Badajoz (his father was a haberdasher), he was active mainly in Seville and is considered one of the painters of the Seville School. He studied in Seville between 1614 and 1617 and returned to the city in 1629 as a town painter. He painted a series of ten pictures for Philip IV in Madrid, namely The Labors of Hercules. After that he devoted himself to religious painting in Andalusia and was one of the most sought after painters of the Counter-Reformation. Many of his paintings depicted solitary monks and saints against a plain background. In 1658 he moved to Madrid, where he tried to get work because his style had lost favor. He died in obscurity and poverty. Zurbaran's style is similar to that of Caravaggio because he used the chiaroscuro technique. His figures were usually severe. The Seville Museo de Bellas Artes has his altarpiece of Saint Thomas Aquinas, as well as many other of his religious paintings. The Prado also has many of his works of art.

12. Diego Velazquez (Born in Seville in1599 - Died in Madrid in 1660) - Diego Velazquez became one of Spain's greatest artists, and who had the greatest influence on European art. He was born in Seville and his father had noble Portugese descent. When he was in his teens, he studied art with Francisco Pacheco, whose daughter he later married when he was 19. He went to Madrid and when he was 24, he painted a portrait of Philip IV, who became his patron. He made a trip to Italy in 1629 and studied the techniques of Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. When he returned to the court, he engaged mostly in portrait painting, painting the king and his family. He was promoted to become the marshal of the royal household and he arranged the wedding of the Infanta Maria Teresa to Louis XIV of France. Among the greatest paintings of Velazquez are The Feast of Bacchus, The Forge of Vulcan, Maria Teresa of Spain, The Surrender at Breda, The Count Duke of Olivares on Horseback, and Innocent X. His most famous painting is Las Meninas, which is considered one of the most important Spanish paintings of all time. The painting has very deep meanings and is a psychological study in itself. It continues to fascinate all viewers because each viewer comes up with his own explanation of what he sees. He influenced Murillo, Manet, Picasso, Dali, and Francis Bacon, as well as most of the painters who came after him. Most of his works can be found in the Prado.

13. Alonso Cano (Born in Granada in 1601- Died in Granada in 1667)- Alonso Cano was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and architect who was born in Granada. His father was Miguel Cano and he taught him architecture. He studied painting in Seville with Francisco Pacheco, and one of his fellow students was Velazquez. He also studied sculpture with Juan Martinez Montañes and stayed in Seville from 1614 to 1638. He then moved to Madrid to become the painter of the Count-Duke Olivares. Philip IV employed him to restore the pictures of his royal collection. In 1652 he returned to Granada and designed the facade of the cathedral. The Cathedral has many of his paintings and sculptures, among which is a polychromed wooden statue of the Immaculate Conception, which many consider his masterpiece. He was known for his uncontrollable temper.

14. Bartolome Esteban Murillo (Born in Seville in 1617 - Died in Seville in 1682) - Bartolome Esteban Murillo became one of the most important Baroque painters of Spain and his most famous paintings were of a religious nature because he painted many works with the themes of the Virgin and Child, and the Immaculate Conception. His parents died when he was a child and he went to live with the artist Juan del Castillo, who taught him art. He later went to Madrid, where he familiarized himself with the works of Velazquez and other European masters. After returning to Seville, he became famous for painting 13 canvases for the monastery of San Francisco el Grande. He also painted flower girls of Seville and ragged boys. He later was one of the founders of the Academia de Bellas Artes of Seville. His Inmaculada, a painting of the Virgin Mary, is in the Prado. Many of his paintings of the Virgin show the figure with an illuminated mist, with angels and cherubs surrounding the Virgin. In 1681 he was in Cadiz, painting a wall of the Capuchin monastery, when he fell from the scaffold, and died the year later. He was buried in the church of Santa Cruz in Seville.

15. Juan de Valdes Leal (Born in Seville in 1622 - Died in Seville in 1690) - Juan de Valdes Leal was a painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect and printmaker. His ancestry was Portugese and he studied in Cordoba with the painter Antonio del Castillo. It was there that he started his workshop. His influences were Tintoretto and Titian, as well as his contemporaries in Madrid and Seville. He married Isabella Carasquilla (also a painter) in 1647 and had five children, four of whom also became artists. He painted the History of the Prophet Elias for a Carmelite church, Triumph of the Cross for La Caridad in Seville, and the Martyrdom of St. Andrew for the Church of San Francisco in Cordoba. His works were very somber and were painted in a dramatic style. He worked with Murillo and co-founded the Seville Academy of Art. All of his works have vivid colors, dramatic light effects, and a sense of fluid movement.

16. Francisco Herrera (the Younger) (Born in Seville in 1622 - Died in Madrid in 1685) -

Francisco Herrera (the Younger) was a Spanish painter and architect, the son of Francisco Herrera (the Elder). He went to Italy to escape his father's bad temper. He studied fresco painting and architecture in Rome. He returned to Spain after the death of his father and became the deputy of Murillo at the Academy of Seville in 1660. Later he moved to Madrid and became the Painter to the King Carlos II. His greatest achievement was the design of the Church of El Pilar in Zaragoza, which was begun in 1681. His style as a painter was colorful and airy, similar to the style of Murillo. He painted the Triumph of St. Hermengild (now in the Prado), and the Triumph of St. Francis, in the Seville Cathedral.

17. Pedro de Mena y Medrano (Born in Adra in Almeria in 1628 - Died in Malaga in 1688) - Pedro de Mena was a Spanish sculptor, the son of Alonso de Mena. He studied his art with his father and Alonso Cano, who was his more influential teacher. He became successful with his first works, which were the statues of St. Joseph, St. Anthony de Padua, St. Diego, and Santa Clara in the Church of El Angel in Granada. After that he worked on the choir stalls of the Cathedral of Malaga for four years. The choir has stalls with carved wooden statues of saints and other figures, which number 42. The statues are of such beauty and individuality that they are considered among the most important works of all sculpture. His art is classified as late Baroque. He created an outstanding collection of life-size sculptures in wood that are in major cathedrals and museums in Spain. He made effigies of royalty, saints, and madonnas that were highly realistic and vividly emotional. His technical skill was unsurpassed in Spain. In 1658 Mena moved to Malaga permanently. He made a trip to Madrid in 1662 where he met many influential patrons who gave him plenty of work to last him a lifetime. Mena made the polychrome marble figures of Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella at prayer for the Granada Cathedral in 1677. Other famous sculptures were La Magdalena, La Dolorosa and Ecce Homo.

18. Pedro Roldan (Born in Seville in 1624 - died in Seville in 1700) - Pedro Roldan was the best sculptor of the late 17th century. He was also a painter and an architect. When he was 14 years old, he went to Granada to work as an apprentice to Alonso de Mena. Later he married the niece of Alonso de Mena and they had their first child in Granada. When Alonso de Mena died, Roldan returned to Seville and found plenty of work in his birth city. In 1660 he became a professor of sculpture at the Academy of Art founded by Murillo. Roldan had eight children who worked with him in his workshop, and the most famous of these children was Luisa Roldan, known as La Roldana, who became a famous sculptor too. Among the best works of Pedro Roldan are the sculpture he made for the Hospital de la Caridad in Sevilla, the altarpiece of the Iglesia del Sagrario in Seville, and the sculptures of the Four Evangelists, the Four Doctors of the Church and San Fernando for the facade of the Cathedral of Jaen. His style was Baroque, but very elegant and dynamic.

19. Luisa Roldan (Born in Seville in 1652 - Died in Madrid in 1706) - Luisa Ignacia Roldan was called La Roldana and became the first woman sculptress in Spain, working in the Baroque Era. She learned early sculpture with her father and became the most talented among her seven siblings. She not only sculpted, but she read a lot to inform herself about her Catholic religion, because she wanted to impart to her sculptures the real character of the saints that she sculpted. She had a strong character and married a sculptor, Luis Antonio de los Arcos, against the wishes of her parents. So she had to leave home and decided to go to Cadiz in 1686, where the city fathers wanted sculptures to put in their new Cathedral. She found plenty of work in Cadiz and became very successful there. Later she went to Madrid in 1692 and became the court sculptor for Carlos II. When that king died, his successor Felipe V also employed her as the court sculptor. One of her more famous sculptures is the statue of the Archangel Michael with the devil at his feet in El Escorial. She also sculpted the Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena, which is used in the Holy Week processions, and the Virgen de Regla de Los Panaderos. Her work is characterized with emotion, expression, and harmony, giving her fame as the best sculptress of the Baroque Age.

20. Julio Romero de Torres (Born in Cordoba in 1874 - Died in Cordoba in 1930) - Julio Romero de Torres was one of the best modern Spanish painters, known for his sensual portraits of women. His father was the famous Impressionist painter Rafael Romero Barros. Julio learned art from his father, who founded and directed the Bellas Artes Museum in Cordoba. In 1906 he went to work and study in Madrid. He painted Vivadoras del Amor for the National Exhibition of Fine Arts, but it was rejected because it was considered too scandalous, with its realism. He also learned much about art during his travels in Europe. His style of painting has been classified as the symbolist style. After the First World War he worked as a professor of Clothing Design in the School of Fine Arts in Madrid. In 1922 he traveled to Argentina with his brother until he got sick and had to return to Cordoba. He deteriorated and died there. His museum in Cordoba occupies his former residence and is filled with his paintings, mostly of women.

21. Pablo Picasso (Born in Malaga in 1881 – Died in 1973 in the French Riviera) - Pablo Picasso became the most famous artist of the 20th century and was the most prolific painter and sculptor. His parents were Jose Ruiz y Blasco and Maria Picasso y Lopez, from a middle class family. His father was an art teacher and a painter who specialized painting birds. Pablo showed an aptitude for art since he was very young. In 1895 his sister Conchita died of diptheria and this was traumatic for Picasso. Later his family moved to Barcelona and Pablo was enrolled in the School of Fine Arts. Later he studied in the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, but Pablo was undisciplined and dropped out. However he spent much time in the Prado studying the paintings of Velazquez, Goya, Zurbaran, and El Greco. In 1900 Picasso moved to Paris, where he struggled with poverty. He met Leo and Gertrude Stein, American art collectors who started buying Picasso's work. Picasso met the other artists who lived in Paris, such as Matisse and Georges Braque, as well as the leading intellectuals. In 1907 he shocked the world with his Cubist masterpiece Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which established him as a very original artist. He co-founded the Cubist school with Braque. Picasso was married twice and had four children by three women. Many of his women were the subjects of his paintings, and each woman inspired him to paint in a different style. Later Picasso created another masterpiece in 1937 called Guernica, about the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso spent the later years of his life on the French Riviera, where he continued to paint and sculpt and create different forms of art. Picasso went through different periods, which some have classified as the Blue Period, Rose Period, African Influenced Period, Cubism, Classicism and Surrealism. When he died he had produced about 50,000 works of art. He had the greatest influence on most artists of the 20th century. That was his legacy. Many of his paintings were sold as some of the most expensive paintings in the world.

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1. Re: The Best Artists from Andalusia

Lovely, great!! Thanks, Benny. I will take my time to read it all... Only a couple of "things":

22. Juan de Mesa y Velasco (Born in Cordoba, 1583- Died in Seville 1627), considered one of the best Baroque sculptors. He is author of a bunch of the most beautiful Christ images of the Semana Santa in Seville (Amor, Montserrat, Buena Muerte and the unforgettable Gran Poder) He sculpted also, the same year of his death, the splendid Virgen de las Angustias, said to be the best sculpture in Cordoba's Semana Santa.

And, about Luisa Roldán, "La Roldana"... it is lovely to think that she is the sculptress of La Macarena... a woman reflecting masterly the feminine beauty. A widely spread mistake, because, unfortunately, it is only a legend, with no historical base at all.

2. Re: The Best Artists from Andalusia

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