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Fine Arts of Spain at the end of the Golden Age Essay

The Spanish society during the late 1600s seemed to be a confused society as there were some developments that were so dominating. First is the series of defeats in war against France that had given Spain it first taste of what it means to be a conquered nation, second is the decline of Castile hegemony resulting to the weakening of the imperial state prompting Castilian aristocracy to take advantage of a weakened monarchy, and began to take affairs of the imperial states in their own hands, and third, is the shift of gender emphasis which may have caused all this declines and defeats.

Feminization spread all through out Spanish society. According to Sedney Donel (2003), the “fear of imminent feminization of the general male populace in Imperial Spain is especially visible in certain pictorial images of the spiritual disintegration of Castilian hegemony” (Donell 2003, p. 152). According to Donell, during most artist painting illustrates “the feeling of despair and fatalism that swept over Spain as its empire began to crumble” (Donell, p. 152) What does it mean when stated that a System of Values was arising…?

I would say that the above statement refers to the gender problems that gripped Spain during the so-called ‘golden age. ’ The rise of cultural anxiety over gender brought about by feminization has created a new value system that is associated with the love of art had contributed to the decline of the Spanish nation. Donell noted that aristocracy had embraced feminization, and even most members of this group “no longer had the means to build lavish palaces, but they consumed lavishly and became ostentatious patrons of the arts” (Donell, p. 157), which resulted in the unfolding national tragedy.

Donell aptly calls this “a paradox between an economy in ruin and a cultural production that had entered a golden age” (Donnel, p. 157). It means that the values that were in Spain during this time were about the love of arts and female gender appreciation. Both Philip III and Philip were lovers of drama and did not spend much time on governing but on leisure and court fiestas. Characteristics that can be seen in El Greco Paintings The characteristic of El Greco’s paintings defect his deep devotion to Roman Catholicism and his wide knowledge of his religion.

His painting also defect masculine character probably in response to the prevailing gender emphasis attracting men even in the aristocracy. Quoting Marcelin Defourneaux, Donell described the scenario, he stated “The fashion of short hair had given place to the wearing of it long, or a wig; the use perfumes and even make-up was common among of high distinction that you no longer know whether you are talking to men or to their sisters” (Donell 2003, p. 156) Thus the characteristic of his paintings seemed reminds the role that men ought to be in the society. The Paintings of Diego Velasquez

Based on his available paintings, Diego Velasquez interest in paintings was not focus on religion alone. Obviously he loves to paint monarchs depicting their everyday lives, and many of his paintings were of the princess and prince and king and queen of Spain. His relation to El Greco was that he was a disciple of El Greco about modern arts. Beyond this nothing more was said about their relations. The Paintings of Bartolome Esteban Murillo Most of Murillo’s paintings expressed the childish figures and expression of serenity, sweetness, innocence, faith, tranquility, and devotion.

He would also love to present the cheerful aspect of spiritual life. His religious compositions emphasized the main subject usually surrounded by angels with vaporous background to accentuate the central theme. Murillo’s painting has some similarities with that of Velasquez and El Greco. Murillo and Velasquez both created paintings that depict everyday living having children as the central subject. Both had influence of Italian way of paintings. El Greco’s painting could be considered similar with that of Murillo in such a way that they loved painting religious images.

The Habsburg Kings and their Rule in Spain The Habsburg refers to the royal family that ruled Europe for over six centuries. They were known for their contribution in the advancement of Roman Catholic Church. Their regime started in old Switzerland (Swabia) and extended its holdings to other parts of Europe. The Habsburg kings in Spain that began in 1516 contributed in the centralization of Spain and the advancement of Roman Catholicism in that county. During this period, Spain reached the pinnacle of its power to many nations such as Philippines and many American colonies.

Castile and Separatism Castile or Castilla is a former kingdom in Spain, which derived its name from the large castles built in that place. It was under the rule of Moors from 8th century to 1035 until Ferdinand I conquered it. The kingdom expanded when Ferdinand II married Isabella I of Castile in 1469. The merging of the two kingdoms strengthened Catholic religion and weakened the Arab strongholds, and even to the point of vanishing of them. It was during this period that Spain had divided political structure because of religious values and regional identity.

Moriscos Morisco is a term given to Moslems in Spain and Portugal who were converted by force to Catholicism but continuously practicing their own faith. These Moriscos suffered from discrimination and persecution so they were driven out to North Africa. Prior to expulsion, these people were given religious freedom under the Treaty of Granada though; they were persecuted, which caused rebellions in 1499 and in 1568 to 1571. And in 1609 to 1614, these Moriscos with an estimate number at around 300,000 were totally expelled from Spain

Religiosity Spanish people’s religiosity is articulated in such a way that parents transmit this belief to their offspring. It has often seen in this country some religious practices that are performed by almost all family members such as attending mass and festivities. As a practice, Spanish people observed religious festivals in remembrance of saints. Religion has the biggest contribution in the development of their culture as a country. The State of the Spanish Society Spanish society was characterized by strong regionalism and religiosity.

However, a unified Spain was achieved when they finally confided themselves in one religion and one political structure especially during the reign of Ferdinand II and Isabella I. Most of the members of their society comprised the knights, bishops, nobility, and townspeople. During the reign of Ferdinand II, they had a unified Spain with advancement in trade, centralized institutions, central banking system, and advance science and discovery. Philip IV, His Son Charles, and the Pope: The French to the Spanish Crown

Philip IV inherited the crown in 1621, at the age of 16, and through his reign the dream of hegemonic Spain was pervasive despite the kingdoms vulnerability both internationally and domestically. Though he implemented several economic reforms yet his reign was characterized as the end of Spain’s hegemonic era, and Castile experience utter defeat. After Philip IV’ death his son Charles II inherited the throne in 1668. However his reign was characterized by weak monarchy, and was known as golden age for the privileged classes particularly the Castilian aristocracy who took advantage of the weak monarchy.

According to Charles Knight (1840), the Pope’s interest in Spain was that he wanted to restore Spain to her rank and power among nations (Knight1840, p. 78). It can be recalled that Spain under Philip IV suffered humiliating defeat and lost her prestige as hegemonic nation. Reference List Donell, S. (2003) Femenizing the Enemy: Imperial Spain, Transvestite Dramma, and the Crises: USA: Bucknell University Press. Knight, Charles. (1840) Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. London: Encyclopedias and Dictionaries.


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