Viceroys, ambassadors, courtiers, travellers, collectors, scholars, and artists brought to Spain the image of Rome as a political concept and cultural idea through the medium of art and archaeology - that is, through drawings, sculptures, coins, objects, editions of classical texts, and correspondence. In , after the conquest of the territories under Islamic control, Spain was unified under the Catholic monarchs. Nebrija, who studied for 9 years in Italy, had assimilated Lorenzo Valla's idea that it was possible to recover the Roman empire through a study of its culture and language.
Nebrija applied these ideas to the new monarchy, providing a literary legitimisation for the unifying politics of the Catholic monarchs. He conceived Spain, under united rule, as the heir of the Roman empire; its sovereigns were thought to have direct lineage from the Roman emperors and their successors, the Visigothic kings 6. Nebrija created an intellectual and political image that established the territory of the Spanish empire as equal in extent to the Roman. This explains Nebrija's interest in recovering the antiquities of Spain, as they were relevant to the cultural and political origins of the nation.
As a result of this territorial image, maps in which the Iberian peninsula was represented, as in the Roman period, by three provinces Citerior or Tarraconensis, Lusitania and Baetica and her African territory Hispania Transfretana or Tingitana began to proliferate.
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Italian ambassadors at the Spanish court during the reign of the Catholic monarchs and of Charles of Hapsburg had the same interest. His work about antiquities in Spain 7 was very successful and provided the reason for correspondence with Castiglione. Examples from the reign of Charles of Hapsburg include the poet Mariangelo Accursio, the historian Francesco Guicciardini, and Castiglione himself. In the second half of the 16th c. This survey has a specific entry, number 36, related to the antiquities in each place: 'remains of ancient buildings, epitaphs and signs, and relics of which there is knowledge', including drawings in some cases 9.
Moreover, Philip II ordered from the Flemish painter Anton van den Wyngaerde views of the most important cities in the kingdom, which were assigned to his new palace-monastery in the Escorial Over the next three centuries, interest in classical antiquity in Spain was manifested in several ways: through the collections of sculptures and antiquities which provided symbols of power and prestige; through the translation of architectural treatises; and by travels to Italy by architects and artists for study and the drawing of monuments that had a huge influence on the Renaissance and neo-classical architecture in Spain.
The ambition of the new Bourbon dynasty to identify itself with the glorious imperial past resulted in the energetic revival in the 18th c. Four themes have been chosen to study the information for the use of images of Rome during the 16th to 18th c. These are: 1 artists and antiquarians in Rome in the 16th c. These topics cover the variety of ways in which images derived from classical Rome were used within Spain at this time.
The history of the collecting of antiquities is also important and is mentioned in passing. The image of Renaissance Rome and its recently discovered antiquities was transmitted to Spain in different ways but always as a result of visits to Italy by ambassadors, courtiers, agents of the king to the papacy, scholars, travellers, and artists. Among the first group was Diego Hurtado de Mendoza , poet, philologist, book-collector and historian, who was also the ambassador of Charles V in Venice and Rome. He was a great collector of coins, manuscripts, sculptures, and codices of Greek and Latin authors.
Diego de Villalta considered him, in his manuscript treatise De las estatuas antiguas 12 , to be the foremost among the Spanish collectors At the end of his life Diego Hurtado de Mendoza bequeathed his library with many manuscripts of Greek and Latin texts and his antiquities mainly coins to Philip II, who placed them in the Escorial library.
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The presence and contributions of Italians at the Spanish court made a difference in the matter of erudition. Especially important was the spread of the practice of copying inscriptions and noting down all the remains of antiquity they saw during their travels with the itinerant court of Charles V. Accursio, the ambassador of Charles V who travelled around the peninsula from to , has traditionally been considered the first compiler of inscriptions in Spain.
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He adopted a methodology that was followed in later collections The group of Spanish antiquarians and scholars in Rome that was established in the 15th c. Antonio de Nebrija himself had brought humanist ideas from Italy about the recovering of classical antiquity and not only political ideas, under the influence of Lorenzo Valla, but also antiquarian studies. The humanist doctor Luis de Lucena, who settled in Rome from , was a member of the Academy of Archaeology, which usually convened around Archbishop Colonna.
He authored a compilation of inscriptions in Spain that is kept in the Vatican Library shelf mark , dated to Benito Arias Montano organised the Escorial's library by order of Philip II and donated several pieces from his collection, such as the famous Hebrew 'shekel' stolen by the French during the War of Independence Arias Montano also co-ordinated the edition of the Biblia regia and participated in the Ecumenical Council in Trento held between and This event provided an opportunity for the most notable scholars in Europe to meet.
He studied Early Christian art from 'Roma sotterranea' the catacombs in his Historia descriptio urbis Romae and published a dissertation in Latin about Trajan's Column. Agustin's letters and works during his stay in Italy between and the end of helped to transmit the image of Rome to Spain. His collection of coins and antiquities, and his library and papers were placed, after his death, in the library of the Escorial.
Among the Spanish artists who worked in Rome during this period was Francisco d'Ollanda or de Holanda; , a painter who was born in Lisbon Portugal. He travelled around several cities in Italy and drew the most important monuments, ancient and new, in each city. He developed some important friendships, as with Michelangelo Buonarroti. It shows statues, frescos and ancient buildings that were highly appreciated by contemporary artists and scholars.
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He integrated all these into the intellectual and everyday life of the city. The wedding involved a chariot procession modelled on the triumphs held by Roman emperors.
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The ceremony had a melancholy effect on Francisco that was comparable to the 18th-c. On reading these words, one recalls Gibbon's contemplations on the Capitol two centuries later, conceiving his Decline and fall of the Roman empire , or Goethe's amazement standing in front of the temples at Paestum. It was given to Diego by his aunt, the marquise of Zenete and is known as the Codex Escurialensis shelf mark II The importance of this codex is that its drawings, which predate and are attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, were the models for the architecture and decoration of the Palacio de La Calahorra Granada , one of the first examples of Renaissance architecture in Spain.
In addition, the continuous movements of ambassadors, viceroys and courtiers between Spain and Italy from the 15th c. They brought to Spain the collections of classical sculpture amassed during visits to Italy, and they helped to transmit visual images of antiquity that tied in with the theories and ideologies introduced by humanist scholars.
Pieces from Italy are present in Spanish collections from the 15th c. The representation on busts and medals of illustrious personalities of antiquity as exempla virtutis reflected the ideas of moral excellence and virtue and the notion of prestige, especially in the case of busts of emperors, philosophers and poets. The introduction of humanistic classicism was especially significant in Seville during the 16th c. The city was called the 'New Rome' 26 , an expression which was not only allegorical, resulting from Seville's importance as a centre of Spanish humanism, but also real, indicating the presence of antiquities and works of art within its borders.
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