Page 3 - Baroque-Gothic-and-Modernist-Valencia
P. 3

he baroque is an often misunderstood              3
concept, not least because it reminds us of
complexity, agglomeration, and even ornamental
disorder. It is worth remembering that the historical
circumstances that ushered in the baroque emerged
from the need for order after the liberties of Mannerism,
and specifically as a means of conveying reality to whole
populations, not just to intellectuals.

In Spain, both the monarchy and the church tried
to lighten the 17th century’s miserable political and
economic situation with a grandiose image that was
mostly false and short-lived. Nevertheless, art, or more
precisely, artists developed their own creativity despite a
lack of outside contacts, making way for the Golden Age
of painting, sculpture and literature.

Seventeenth century Valencia, like the rest of the
country, was touched by the iron grip of the Escorial.
Severity became the order in religious buildings, though
the grandiloquent pomposity of the ecclesiastical and
monarchical baroque was attempting to gain ground
steadily. We can see this in the Monastery of San Miguel
de los Reyes.

Painting, however, was the art that drew most attention,
given that it adorned the interiors of already constructed
temples and convents. A school of artists stood out
which, like the Ribalta, began to weigh up the volume,
expression, and tactility of materials, although within a
strictly religious context. They were followed by Espinosa,
Orrente, or March. José de Ribera, who had connections
with Naples, is left slightly to one side of the immediate
Valencian circle, but he will always be part of the region’s
pictorial tradition.

At the end of the century, ornamental effervescence
worked upon arts patrons and artists to bring a period
of facing gothic buildings with the ornamental yield from
a boom in sculpture. Some of them were finished with
frescos decorating domed ceilings to add to the visual
fantasy created by the conjunction of all arts. Such is the
case with the Church of Saint John of the Market, or the
Santos Juanes Church.

It was precisely this dynamic requirement that spurred
the production of extraordinary quality from artists
such as Juan Bautista Viñes, Pérez Castiel, and Juan
Bautista Mínguez, who worked especially on the new
“Communion Chapels” we can view in the Church of
St Nicholas, or on the finishing and ornamentation of
the ancient towers, gothic bell-towers which were even
replaced by new ones as in the bell-tower of the Church
of Saint Catherine the Martyr.

By way of contrast, the 18th century, with the arrival of
the Bourbon dynasty, saw the introduction of rococo
forms. These were manifested in the interiors of religious
buildings with a profusion of garlands, stuccos and
golden plasterwork, all leading to the creation of a
popular style of harmonious clarity and extensive colour
use, complemented magnificently by ceramic tiling from
Manises, a tradition in Valencia since the middle ages. A
brilliant example of this artistic symbiosis can be found in
the Church of Our Lady of the Pilar.
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