From the Introduction. THE development of Art was retarded in Spain by her struggles for political existence and her incessant contests with the Moors; and until the beginning of the seventeenth century her painters were subject to the varying influences of foreign schools. When, however, through commerce and war, communication was opened up with Italy, all those Spaniards who devoted themselves to art, either from affection or by profession, rushed to that land where it is most loved, and brought back to their own ...
From the Introduction. THE development of Art was retarded in Spain by her struggles for political existence and her incessant contests with the Moors; and until the beginning of the seventeenth century her painters were subject to the varying influences of foreign schools. When, however, through commerce and war, communication was opened up with Italy, all those Spaniards who devoted themselves to art, either from affection or by profession, rushed to that land where it is most loved, and brought back to their own country a taste which they had cultivated under the great masters themselves. Then foreign painters were attracted to Spain by the rewards and encouragements of her King. Schools were formed, the three principal of which were at Valencia, Toledo and Seville; but they were at first only feeble imitations of those in Italy. Each had its own peculiar style, but the deeply religious tone was common to all. The school of Castile is generally recognised by sombre colouring, cloudy skies, and grey backgrounds; the Valencian by bright violet hues; that of Seville by rich browns, reds and golden tints. Objects of still-life, such as water-jars, baskets of fruit, melons, fish and game abound in the Sevillian paintings, and some of these bodegones (or kitchen pieces) as they are called, are works of great merit. In the Valencian school the painters of still-life delighted chiefly in flowers. It is in the Seville school that we are now interested, and there it was that the Italian Renaissance found its most noteworthy representatives, and from it came the greatest names in Spanish painting. The primitive school in Seville was founded by Juan Sanchez de Castro about 1450, and next in importance to his comes the name of Alexo Fernandez; but the first place in the list of artists between Castro and Velazquez must be given to Luis de Vargas, who had the honour of introducing into Spain the art of painting in oils and fresco. In 1563 he executed, upon the restoration of the cathedral, the frescoes in the niches. He had spent twenty-eight years in Italy. The influence of one of his pupils, the Spaniard Ribera, is seen in the first works of the masters of Spain's golden age of art and splendour, Velazquez and Murillo. The name of Luis Fernandez has been perpetuated by his scholars Herrera, Pacheco, and the Castillos, who were eventually the masters of Velazquez, Cano and Murillo. Francisco Herrera, the Elder, was the first Andalusian artist to adopt that free, bold style which afterwards attained to such perfection in Seville. As a teacher, however, his influence was lessened by his hasty temper, which drove his pupils away from him, Velazquez among the number. He was sometimes even left without assistants, and there is a tradition that on such occasions he employed his maid-servant to cover his canvas with colours, to which he afterwards gave form and beauty. At one time, under an accusation of coining false money, he was driven to the sanctuary in the Jesuits' College, and whilst there painted a splendid altar-piece for their church. It was only just completed when Philip IV visited the town, and on seeing the painting inquired for the artist. Hearing of his crime, he called Herrera before him, and granted him free pardon, saying, "What need of money has a man gifted with abilities like yours? Go. You are free, and take care not to get into such a scrape again." In 1650 Herrera went to reside in Madrid, where he found his runaway pupil Velazquez in the enjoyment of the highest repute....
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