In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Spanish Art

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Documentary and Primary Sources
  • Collecting and Patronage to 1600
  • Collecting and Patronage, 17th Century
  • Ceramics and Metalwork
  • Costume, Textiles, and Jewelry

Renaissance and Reformation Spanish Art
Xanthe Brooke
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0038


Most publications about the visual arts of the Iberian Peninsula have focused in the past on Spain’s so-called Golden Age in the 17th century, when its art is seen as having created its own distinctive style, exemplified by the work of celebrated painters such as Diego Velázquez. There are, however, many first-class artists—painters, graphic artists, and especially sculptors—of the 15th to 17th centuries who are still unknown beyond the world of the dedicated Hispanist. For this reason, this bibliography highlights such previously neglected areas as the multicultural artistic influences—Flemish, Italian, and Hispano-Muslim—of the 15th century, which prepared the way for what is sometimes termed the “Italian” Renaissance. This bibliography also emphasizes drawing and printmaking, an area that is often considered unrepresentative of Spain’s visual arts, though much research has been published on the graphic arts since the mid-1980s. Even more recently, publications have increased about Spanish sculpture and especially its distinctive polychromed processional figures and multitiered sculpted altarpieces (retablos). Some of the most innovative research has been technical art history using x-radiographic photography and pigment analysis on paintings, drawings, and sculpture. Much of this research has been published in the form of essays accompanying multidisciplinary exhibition catalogues, which often include discursive footnotes and a full scholarly apparatus of extensive bibliographies, detailed chronologies, and documentary appendices. From the late 1980s, many of these often blockbuster catalogues examined art patronage in the Renaissance and Baroque periods and usually illustrated lavishly both the applied and the fine arts. Initially, such important research was published only in Spanish, but increasingly exhibition catalogues in Spain are published in bilingual Spanish/English editions. Finally, there has been such a flourishing of important publications about individual 17th-century Spanish artists that only a small sample of publications has been included in this bibliography, and Velázquez has his own bibliography.

General Overviews

Kubler and Soria 1959 was the first modern overview of Spanish art. Like many surveys, it covers only the so-called Golden Age and Enlightenment of Hispanic arts, from the 16th through to the 19th centuries. It is now somewhat superseded, especially for painting, by Brown 1998 and Mallory 1990 (both cited under Painting) and in sculpture and applied arts by Trusted 2007. Despite its summary nature and monochrome illustrations, it still provides a good introduction. The remaining texts are more specialized in chronology and subject. Dodds, et al. 2008 examines Islamic art and its material culture in Spain between the 8th and 15th centuries; it developed from Jerrilynn Dodds’s work on the pioneering Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition in 1992. Yarza Luaces 1992 pays as much attention to key patrons as to individual artists in the period between the 13th and 15th centuries and discusses in particular the author’s specialist interest in illuminated manuscripts. The companion volume on the 16th century in the same series, Marías 1992, provides a good, accessible general introduction in Spanish to the arts of that period. Fernando Checa Cremades is one of the leading authorities on the Spanish Renaissance and patronage at the courts of Charles I and Philip II (see Collecting and Patronage to 1600); Checa Cremades 1983 aims to promote the thesis of a humanist, cosmopolitan Renaissance culture in Spain and to undermine previously proposed views of Spain as isolated culturally from Europe. Stoichita 1995 provides one of the very rare treatments to apply postmodern and post-structuralist theory to Spanish painting and sculpture of the 16th and 17th centuries. Marjorie Trusted’s expertise in Spanish sculpture and her grounding as a curator in an applied arts museum informs her stimulating discourse (Trusted 2007) and expands it beyond two-dimensional visual art forms to include furniture, ceramics, and textiles.

  • Checa Cremades, Fernando. Pintura y escultura del renacimiento en España 1450–1600. Madrid: Cátedra, 1983.

    A 470-page book of essays about painting and sculpture in Renaissance Spain, with thematic bibliography, featuring the artists Jaume Huguet, Juan de Flandes, Gil de Siloé, El Greco, Sánchez Coello, Juan de Juni, Alonso Berruguete, and Yáñez de la Almedina. Also treats ephemeral festive decoration (not previously much discussed) and the history of taste. Illustrated in monochrome.

  • Dodds, Jerrilynn, María Rosa Menocal, and Abigail Balbale. The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

    Integrated coverage of Islamic architectural, two-dimensional visual, textile, and horticultural arts and their influence on Christian and Jewish Spain. Small-format paperback. Well illustrated in color and monochrome.

  • Kubler, George, and Martin Soria. Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal and Their American Dominions 1500 to 1800. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1959.

    Original undergraduate textbook survey with general overview of the arts in the Iberian Peninsula and its colonies in Latin America.

  • Marías, Fernando. El siglo XVI: Gótico y Renacimiento. Madrid: Sílex, 1992.

    Fifth volume in a series of paperback introductions to Spanish art, focusing on 16th-century Gothic and Renaissance art. Concise 222-page, well-illustrated discussion that contrasts the reinvented Gothic tradition, especially in architecture and sculpture, with the introduction of influences from the Renaissance and Antiquity. Artists featured include Alonso Berruguete and El Greco. The final of four chapters focuses on the Escorial and the funerary arts.

  • Stoichita, Victor. Visionary Experience in the Golden Age of Spanish Art. London: Reaktion, 1995.

    Small-format 224-page book focusing on two- and three-dimensional art from 1575 to the end of the 17th century, illustrated in monochrome and color. Author is not a Hispanist and uses Spanish art as a case study, within a greater European context, for postmodernist theories regarding “visionary experience.”

  • Trusted, Marjorie. The Arts of Spain: Iberia and Latin America 1450–1700. London: V & A, 2007.

    Accessibly written yet scholarly 224-page overview of Hispanic arts. Includes luxury applied arts as well as architecture, painting, and sculpture. Supported with good color illustrations, maps and time lines, footnotes, and an extensive, useful bibliography. Survey divided into six thematic chapters covering the church, secular art, Islamic and Judaic heritage, workshop practices, trade and patronage, and viceregal America.

  • Yarza Luaces, Joaquín. Baja Edad Media: Los siglos del Gótico. Madrid: Sílex, 1992.

    Third volume in a series of paperback introductions to Spanish art. Concise 192-page introduction to Spanish Gothic art (13th–15th centuries) in its painted, sculpted, and architectural forms. Well-illustrated (mainly in color), accompanied by a summary four-page bibliography. A final chapter focuses on iconography.

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