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Legions of the underprivileged lived alongside the opulence of a barony which numbered among the richest, most ancient nobilities of the entire continent. The city was also home to the greatest European concentration of churches and palaces, with an abundant clergy and an elevated presence of religious orders, some of whose convents and monasteries were organised like true islands within its urban fabric. This was the underworld which Caravaggio knew well and which he portrayed in La siete obras de misericordia. In addition, this was the stage upon which the Spanish viceroys must carry out their mission.
The viceroys, however, did not content themselves with this. Theirs was not exclusively a military command, and one of their earliest battles concerned the symbolic control of the urban landscape: from urban reforms to the construction of palaces, from sponsoring churches to the brilliance of ceremonial. This control, however, was a slippery goal, which frequently escaped their grasp, as Naples had its own ceremonial activity which the viceroys were not always able to control. In their favour, on the other hand, was an established monarchic tradition which had, since the time of the Angevins and the Aragonese, made Naples one of the most splendid courts in Europe.
As has been highlighted, some of the Spanish viceroys in Naples can be counted among the greatest artistic patrons of their era. Yet this was not simply a question of personal tastes: one of their chief responsibilities was to provide the royal court with cultural resources which would contribute decisively to forging the public image of the King of Spain.
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In the early seventeenth century it became clear that neither the fortress of Castel Nuovo, nor the palace built by Ferdinando Manlio at the behest of Pedro de Toledo, in which the viceroys had lived during the previous century, were adequate for their representational necessities. As the local writer Giulio Cesare Capaccio understood perfectly, this was the main reason behind the 6th Count of Lemos charging Domenico Fontana, the former papal architect, with the building of a new palace.
Many of the Spanish viceroys in Naples expended a good part of their energies in the promotion and acquisition of works of art, with no expense spared in pursuing this goal. They often experienced their Neapolitan episode as a unique occurrence, and exploited it to the fullest. A considerable part of the results of this activity remained in the city itself, but a certain amount was sent to Spain.
Many viceroys returned from their missions with their ships loaded with pieces, sometimes acquired through means of dubious morality. We are interested in the works themselves, but even more so in their context and the missions assigned to them. Once in Spain, these pieces were distributed among palaces, churches and convents some of these founded by the viceroys themselves , thereby influencing the tastes and outlooks of their contemporaries, as was highlighted in the work of so many Spanish artists of the era.
It is, in fact, difficult to understand the Golden Age without taking this into account.
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- The porous layers of a city;
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One of the least-known aspects of this traffic, which in our exhibition will have particular prominence, is the fate of those pieces which were destined for religious institutions, often cloistered convents and monasteries: pieces which, for that very reason, have in many cases remained beyond the reach of the general public and scholars alike.
Of course, these pieces served also to exalt the figures of the viceroys themselves and their various lineages. In their Spanish palaces, particularly those in Madrid, some created entire galleries of Italian paintings and artworks. Some of them had been commissioned directly by the monarchs, while others were the result of the generosity of their ministers, who attempted in this manner to win the favour of their masters. As a whole, these works made an important contribution to shaping the public image of the Monarchy of Spain and to moulding the tastes and lifestyles of the upper nobility.
On their return, no few viceroys — driven by a desire to perpetuate their memory — founded or sponsored religious establishments which they enriched with pieces acquired during their sojourns in Italy. The viceroys of Naples were also the reason so many painters, sculptors, architects and musicians travelled to Spain, where they carried out an intense activity that directly influenced the techniques of local artists. Browse the gallery and discover the biographies of the 28 viceroys and lieutenants who ruled the Kingdom of Naples in the seventeenth century.
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The seventeenth century of the Neapolitan viceroys, marked by the succession of the different governments. Move the cursor horizontally to discover the century's key events and the deeds described in this exhibition. Canonisation of S. Teresa ofJesus, S.
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Ignatius of Loyola,S. Francis Xavier yS. Isidore the Labourer. Succeeded by his son Philip IV. Teresa of Jesus, S. Ignatius of Loyola, S. Francis Xavier y S. End of the Revolt of Naples. Ascent to the throne of Charles II. Basilica di San Nicola, Bari. Virrey Fadrique de Toledo, Duque de Ferrandina. Virrey Cardenal Borja. Amalfi, cripta de Sant'Andrea. Esculturas napolitanas a las Agustinas Recoletas de Salamanca. Soprintendenza per i beni architettonici, paesaggistici, storici, artistici ed etnoantropologici per Napoli e Provincia. Santa Maria di Monserrato, Roma. La Huerta del Almirante de Castilla, Madrid.
Virrey Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna. Virrey Francisco de Benavides, Conde de Santisteban. Convento de Monforte de Lemos. Santo Spirito dei Napoletani, Roma. Virtual exhibition created thanks to the Culture Programme , financed by the European Union. Spanish Cagliari. Spanish Collectionism in Venice. The Voyages of the Count of Monterrey. Piazza di Spagna, Space of Representation. The Palazzo dello Spagnolo. San Giacomo degli Spagnoli. The Ceremony of the Acanea or Chinea. Church of San Pietro in Montorio. Santa Maria di Monserrato. Gaeta, Port of Entry. Procida and Ischia. The Viceroys and Montevergine in the Seventeenth Century.
L' Aquila. Taranto and the Dioceses under Royal Patronage. Santa Lucia al Monte. Largo di Palazzo, the Backdrop to the Viceroyal Celebrations. Royal Cavalcades in Viceregal Naples. Baroque Fountains. Church of San Giacomo degli Spagnoli in Rome.
Churches of the Spanish Religious Orders in Naples. The Ospedale di San Gennaro dei Poveri. Palazzo Vecchio. Santa Maria della Solitaria. The Port and Private Harbour of Naples. Teatro di San Bartolomeo. Regi Studi. Santa Maria del Pianto. La cavalcata della vigilia di san Giovanni Battista 23 giugno.