The image of Rome in Spain: scholars, artists and architects in Italy in the 16th-18th c.
To the memory of Francis Haskell, who taught me
so much about the lure of the history of collecting.
The long and intense tradition of relations between Spain and Italy was already well established when the Count Baldassarre Castiglione in Il Cortegiano1 stated, in the words of Count Ludovico de Canossa, that 'I would like our courtiers to use some of the Spanish and French words, which we accept as customary'2. In the same period, Pietro Bembo affirmed that during Alexander VI's papacy the court language was 'hispanicised'3. These sources demonstrate that in the first decade of the 16th c. the use of Spanish language and customs was accepted in the culture of the Italian courts.
From the beginning of the 14th c. a branch of the Crown of Aragón reigned in Sicily, and it was incorporated within Aragón in 1479. In 1442 Alfonso V of Aragón, called 'the Magnanimous' (1416-58), conquered Naples and established there a humanistic court which included the presence of such scholars as Lorenzo Valla and Antonio Beccadelli ('il Panormitano'). Alfonso's interest in collecting Roman coins, antiquities and editions of Greek and Latin classical texts is noteworthy. He purchased the contents of a number of famous libraries, including Petrarch's, and also tried to buy that of the Catalan notary Bernat d'Espluges4. From an early period this relationship between the Crown of Aragón and its territories in Italy favoured the development in Spain of new humanistic ideas about classical antiquity as well as the study of Greek and Latin authors as models for politics, literature, architecture, and general conduct5.
Later, Charles of Hapsburg (I of Spain, V of Germany; 1500-1558) inherited from his maternal grandfather, Ferdinand 'the Catholic', the crown of Aragón, including the Italian territories (Sicily, Sardinia and Naples); and from his paternal grandfather, the emperor Maximilian I, he inherited, among other states, the north of Italy. In 1559, with the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, the hegemony of Spain in Italy was recognised not only in its own territories but also in the other states (except for Venice). This was the situation during the 18th c. when, following the Spanish War of Succession (1701-15), the new Bourbon dynasty was installed in Spain, Naples and Sicily. At this time Charles VII of Naples (the future Charles III of Spain) authorised the excavation of the buried cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabia, and also work at Paestum.
With regard to the influence of Rome in Spain, we can identify two significant episodes that coincide with the most important periods for the study of classical antiquity. The first, in the 16th c., is represented mainly by the comments of Antonio Agustín about the collections he saw and the scholars he met in Rome, and by the drawings of Francisco d'Ollanda. The second, in the second half of the 18th c., is represented by the work of resident architects at Rome and the works encouraged by Charles III at the cities buried by Vesuvius and by private enterprise at Paestum.
In this context of political relationships and cultural exchange, imperial Rome always provided a useful model. Viceroys, ambassadors, courtiers, travellers, collectors, scholars, and artists brought to Spain the image of Rome as a political concept and cultural idea through the medium of art and archaeology - that is, through drawings, sculptures, coins, objects, editions of classical texts, and correspondence.
In 1492, after the conquest of the territories under Islamic control, Spain was unified under the Catholic monarchs. Rome provided the political model for this new monarchy that resulted from the union of the crowns of Aragón (Ferdinand) and Castile (Isabella). This idea was reflected by the humanist Antonio de Nebrija (1444-1522) in his Gramática de la lengua castellana (1492), in which Castilian replaced Latin as the 'language of the Empire'. Nebrija, who studied for 9 years in Italy, had assimilated Lorenzo Valla's idea that it was possible to recover the Roman empire through a study of its culture and language. Nebrija applied these ideas to the new monarchy, providing a literary legitimisation for the unifying politics of the Catholic monarchs. He conceived Spain, under united rule, as the heir of the Roman empire; its sovereigns were thought to have direct lineage from the Roman emperors and their successors, the Visigothic kings6. Nebrija created an intellectual and political image that established the territory of the Spanish empire as equal in extent to the Roman. This explains Nebrija's interest in recovering the antiquities of Spain, as they were relevant to the cultural and political origins of the nation. As a result of this territorial image, maps in which the Iberian peninsula was represented, as in the Roman period, by three provinces (Citerior or Tarraconensis, Lusitania and Baetica) and her African territory (Hispania Transfretana or Tingitana) began to proliferate. Italian ambassadors at the Spanish court during the reign of the Catholic monarchs and of Charles of Hapsburg had the same interest. The Sicilian poet Lucio Marineo, a disciple of Pomponio Leto, like Nebrija, a lecturer at the University of Salamanca, and the chaplain of Isabella and Ferdinand, is an example. His work about antiquities in Spain7 was very successful and provided the reason for correspondence with Castiglione. Examples from the reign of Charles of Hapsburg include the poet Mariangelo Accursio, the historian Francesco Guicciardini, and Castiglione himself.
In the second half of the 16th c., Philip II pursued an interest in antiquities with a political aim: the fight with the papacy for his privileges. The survey known as Relaciones topográficas de los pueblos de España8, was an inventory of resources for the reign of Philip. This survey has a specific entry, number 36, related to the antiquities in each place: 'remains of ancient buildings, epitaphs and signs, and relics of which there is knowledge', including drawings in some cases9. Moreover, Philip II ordered from the Flemish painter Anton van den Wyngaerde views of the most important cities in the kingdom, which were assigned to his new palace-monastery in the Escorial10. Wyngaerde included drawings of remains and monuments such as those at Mérida, Sagunto, Tarragona and Itálica. The painter visited the city of Itálica 50 years after the visit of two Italian ambassadors in the court of Charles of Hapsburg, Andrea Navagero and Mariangelo Accursio11.
Over the next three centuries, interest in classical antiquity in Spain was manifested in several ways: through the collections of sculptures and antiquities which provided symbols of power and prestige; through the translation of architectural treatises; and by travels to Italy by architects and artists for study and the drawing of monuments that had a huge influence on the Renaissance and neo-classical architecture in Spain. The ambition of the new Bourbon dynasty to identify itself with the glorious imperial past resulted in the energetic revival in the 18th c. of the idea of Rome as a model.
Four themes have been chosen to study the information for the use of images of Rome during the 16th to 18th c. These are: (1) artists and antiquarians in Rome in the 16th c.; (2) Rome as a model for enlightened Spain; (3) classical architecture as a model: Vitruvius in Spain, and (4) the recovery of antiquity: Herculaneum and Pompeii in Spain. These topics cover the variety of ways in which images derived from classical Rome were used within Spain at this time. The history of the collecting of antiquities is also important and is mentioned in passing.
The image of Renaissance Rome and its recently discovered antiquities was transmitted to Spain in different ways but always as a result of visits to Italy by ambassadors, courtiers, agents of the king to the papacy, scholars, travellers, and artists.
Among the first group was Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1503-75), poet, philologist, book-collector and historian, who was also the ambassador of Charles V in Venice and Rome. He went as an imperial delegate to the Ecumenical Council in Trento (his visit to Trento coincided with that of Antonio Agustín, Arias Montano and other Spanish scholars). He was a great collector of coins, manuscripts, sculptures, and codices of Greek and Latin authors. Diego de Villalta considered him, in his manuscript treatise De las estatuas antiguas12, to be the foremost among the Spanish collectors13. At the end of his life Diego Hurtado de Mendoza bequeathed his library (with many manuscripts of Greek and Latin texts) and his antiquities (mainly coins) to Philip II, who placed them in the Escorial library.
The presence and contributions of Italians at the Spanish court made a difference in the matter of erudition. Especially important was the spread of the practice of copying inscriptions and noting down all the remains of antiquity they saw during their travels with the itinerant court of Charles V. Accursio, the ambassador of Charles V who travelled around the peninsula from 1525 to 1529, has traditionally been considered the first compiler of inscriptions in Spain. He adopted a methodology that was followed in later collections14.
The group of Spanish antiquarians and scholars in Rome that was established in the 15th c. was maintained by transmitting information through correspondence. Antonio de Nebrija himself had brought humanist ideas from Italy about the recovering of classical antiquity and not only political ideas, under the influence of Lorenzo Valla, but also antiquarian studies. The humanist doctor Luis de Lucena, who settled in Rome from 1548, was a member of the Academy of Archaeology, which usually convened around Archbishop Colonna. He authored a compilation of inscriptions in Spain that is kept in the Vatican Library (shelf mark 6039), dated to 154615. Jerónimo Zurita (1512-80), chronicler of the Crown of Aragón from 1549, travelled to Naples and Rome around 1550. Juan Verzosa (1523-74), archivist of Philip II in Rome from 1560, great Latinist and disciple of Luis de Lucena, was a friend of antiquarians such as Fulvio Orsini, Agustín, Zurita, Perafán de Ribera, duke of Alcalá, and others to whom he dedicated several of his Latin epistles16. Benito Arias Montano (1527-98) organised the Escorial's library by order of Philip II and donated several pieces from his collection, such as the famous Hebrew 'shekel' stolen by the French during the War of Independence (1808-14). Arias Montano also co-ordinated the edition of the Biblia regia and participated in the Ecumenical Council in Trento held between 1545 and 1563. This event provided an opportunity for the most notable scholars in Europe to meet. Finally, Alfonso Chacón (1530-99), a Dominican friend of Ambrosio de Morales, settled in Rome as a theologian of Pope Gregory XIII. He studied Early Christian art from 'Roma sotterranea' (the catacombs) in his Historia descriptio urbis Romae and published a dissertation in Latin about Trajan's Column. Presumably the importance of this monument to the Spanish related to the Spanish origin of Trajan (in the duke of Alcalá's collection there was an urn containing the emperor's ashes said to have come from Trajan's Column).
The most important figure at this time was Antonio Agustín (1517-86), archbishop of Tarragona and a pioneer of numismatic studies17. He held several important ecclesiastical positions: auditor for the Sacred Rota, bishop of Alife, apostolic nuncio of Julius III in England, and delegate at the Council of Trento. Agustin's letters and works during his stay in Italy between 1544 and the end of 1559 helped to transmit the image of Rome to Spain. In his Diálogos de medallas, inscriciones y otras antigüedades (1587)18, Agustín systematised the ideas about Roman numismatics which prevailed in Italy. Nevertheless, his greatest achievement was to incorporate new ideas into the tradition of numismatic research inherited from Petrarch, especially with regard to coins that were called 'desconocidas', 'españolas' and 'autónomas' (that is, coins with a legend in Iberian or Punic)19. Among the scholars Agustín met in Rome and during his travels were the most important figures of the period: Enea Vico, Fulvio Orsini, Jacopo Strada, Sebastiano Erizzo, Wolfgang Lazius, Hubert Goltzius, Gabriele Symeoni, Onofrio Panvinio, Latino Latini, and Pirro Ligorio. Agustín conducted an interesting correspondence about epigraphy and numismatics with some of them when he returned to Spain20. His collection of coins and antiquities, and his library and papers were placed, after his death, in the library of the Escorial.
Among the Spanish artists who worked in Rome during this period was Francisco d'Ollanda (or de Holanda; 1518-84), a painter who was born in Lisbon (Portugal). He was sent to Italy when he was 20 by João III, king of Portugal, to 'see and provide designs for the most famous and distinguished fortifications and works'. He travelled around several cities in Italy and drew the most important monuments, ancient and new, in each city. He developed some important friendships, as with Michelangelo Buonarroti. His drawings, in pen and ink, watercolour and gouache, make up the excellent book in the library of the Escorial entitled Os desenhos das antigualhas que vio Francisco d'Ollanda pintor portugués21. It shows statues, frescos and ancient buildings that were highly appreciated by contemporary artists and scholars. Complementing this book is his treatise De la pintura antigua (1538); in its second half, Diálogos de la pintura, Francisco mentioned and discussed Roman sculptures, Roman roads and monuments. He integrated all these into the intellectual and everyday life of the city. For instance, on sheet 123 and subsequent sheets of the Diálogos, Francisco described a ceremony held on November 15, 1539, to commemorate the wedding between Margarita of Parma (the illegitimate daughter of Charles V) and Ottavio Farnese. The wedding involved a chariot procession modelled on the triumphs held by Roman emperors. The ceremony had a melancholy effect on Francisco that was comparable to the 18th-c. attitude inspired by the romantic spirit of ruins:
'... and I went walking to the Baths, thinking many thoughts connected with the past, in which I saw myself more than in the present'22. On reading these words, one recalls Gibbon's contemplations on the Capitol two centuries later, conceiving his Decline and fall of the Roman empire, or Goethe's amazement standing in front of the temples at Paestum. Also in the Escorial library is the Libro de debujos o antigüedades, which belonged to Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. It was given to Diego by his aunt, the marquise of Zenete and is known as the Codex Escurialensis (shelf mark 28-II-12). The importance of this codex is that its drawings, which predate 1500 and are attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, were the models for the architecture and decoration of the Palacio de La Calahorra (Granada), one of the first examples of Renaissance architecture in Spain. This connection has been effectively studied by S. Sebastián and F. Marías23.
In addition, the continuous movements of ambassadors, viceroys and courtiers between Spain and Italy from the 15th c. gave rise to the activities of rich patrons and collectors of art and literature. They brought to Spain the collections of classical sculpture amassed during visits to Italy, and they helped to transmit visual images of antiquity that tied in with the theories and ideologies introduced by humanist scholars. Pieces from Italy are present in Spanish collections from the 15th c. not only as original objects, but also in the form of casts and copies24. The rôle of classical sculpture in these collections was linked both to their historical value, as documents of the artistic achievements of Greece and Rome, and their value as decorative models. The representation on busts and medals of illustrious personalities of antiquity as exempla virtutis reflected the ideas of moral excellence and virtue and the notion of prestige, especially in the case of busts of emperors, philosophers and poets. Such was the case with the collection of sculpture (some originals but mostly casts) that Velázquez brought to Spain in 1651 on the orders of Philip IV. The most important point for the monarch, who was advised by Velázquez, was to have a collection different from those of other rulers, one characterised by statues and busts rather than by paintings and coins25.
The introduction of humanistic classicism was especially significant in Seville during the 16th c. The city was called the
'New Rome'26, an expression which was not only allegorical, resulting from Seville's importance as a centre of Spanish humanism, but also real, indicating the presence of antiquities and works of art within its borders. During official ceremonies, Seville was adorned with copies of arches and other Roman monuments, so-called 'ephemeral architecture'. One of the most important collections of antiquities was gathered in Italy by Perafán de Ribera, first duke of Alcalá, and placed in his palace in Seville known as the Casa de Pilatos. Some of the sculptures were drawn by Manuel Martí, dean of Alicante, at the beginning of the 18th c. and published in L'antiquité expliquée by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris 1719)27.
Architecture provided another important way in which the image of Rome was transmitted. The new architectural system, based on the re-use of ancient typologies, was justified ideologically, in the words of F. Marías, by the desire of patrons to identify with a Roman past and with a present in which Spain dominated Italy28. The new classicistic architecture was developed and propagated in Spain through books of drawings such as the Codex Escurialensis, which was used as a reference for decorative motifs, and through the translations of architectural treatises. The book Medidas del Romano («Measures of the Roman essentials for officials who wish to follow the forms of bases, columns, capitals and other ancient structures»)29 was written by Diego de Sagredo in the form of a dialogue -as was usual at the time- in which the 'Roman' is Vitruvius. This was the first book about classical architecture to be published in Spain. It was immediately translated into French and became the first book on the subject there. Sagredo had been chaplain of Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros and of Queen Doña Juana, mother of Charles V. He started working in 1524 as an architect for the archbishop of Toledo, Alonso de Fonseca, a great patron of art and literature. Sagredo mentioned the monuments that he saw during his visit to Italy, comparing them with the remains of ancient buildings in Spain (Mérida, for instance). But the artistic change had actually occurred 40 years earlier with works commissioned by the count of Tendilla, the Mendoza family, and the marquis of Zenete in several cities, including Guadalajara (Palacio del Infantado) and Granada (Palacio de La Calahorra). Sagredo standardised these works using the theories of Vitruvius as amended by Alberti. His work was very popular in the 16th c. and went through several editions, the last being in 156430.
Thirty years later, in 1552, Francisco de Villalpando, architect to Philip II, translated part of the theoretical work of Serlio: Tercero y quarto libro de architectura de Sebastian Serlio Boloñes31. This was the first book to compile and propagate the works of Renaissance Italians that had been influential in Spain during the previous decades. He described ancient monuments and contemporary works that imitated Roman architecture and even included Egyptian works such as the Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza. He mentioned classical sculptures in Rome such as the Vatican's 'Torso Belvedere' and the Laocoon). The work was a considerable success and several editions were produced.
Rome re-appeared as a cultural focus in Spain during the 18th c. The new Bourbon dynasty which held the throne of Spain after the War of Succession (1701-15) looked for models that it could use as the foundation for its Enlightenment programme. From the time of Philip V, Rome and the Roman empire came to be the reference points for the ministers of the Enlightenment. The Roman model is reflected in the proliferation of books about Roman trade, agriculture, roads and public works. It is also represented in the translations and editions of Latin writers such as Columella. The royal iconography of the Bourbon monarchs was inspired by classical models: portraits of emperors in the form of Roman busts and equestrian statues such as that of Marcus Aurelius on the Campidoglio; and they adopted clothes, armour and symbols from triumphant generals or Roman emperors32, as in the representation of Charles III giving lands to the tenants by royal decree in 1767.
Similarly, following the Renaissance tradition in which Rome had been considered the ideal centre of study for artists, architects and antiquarians, the Spanish Bourbons promoted the examination of antiquities in order to apply in Spain ideas acquired from Italy. The idea was to attempt to be the equal of the Roman empire; in so doing, they tried to recover the cultural hegemony lost under the last Austrian rulers by imitating ancient Rome, its political power and the images used to symbolise that power. The Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, established by Philip V in 1744, was the institution that channelled these ideas.
Eighteenth-century Spain saw two expressions of the interest in classical antiquity: the travels financed by the Real Academia de San Fernando and the royal commissions in Italy. We cannot relate either of these to the tradition of the Grand Tour -those lengthy travels which took nobles, dilettantes and artists from the N European countries, including France, Germany and England, to Italy, Sicily and, later, Greece, and which acted as the basis for experiencing classical culture and for learning. Although enlightened Spanish reformers, following Montesquieu and Rousseau, eulogised travel as a path to knowledge, in Spain these travels were understood in a different way. The main goal was 'learning' for 'usefulness and for the common good', two concepts which were well established in Enlightenment philosophy. People travelled with the aim of acquiring useful knowledge for the progress of Spain, not only in techniques and industry, but also in artistic matters. Consequently, there were two kinds of travels. On the one hand, there were journeys to the northern countries (England, the Low Countries, France), such as that undertaken by the marquis of Ureña and by Antonio Ponz, in order to observe technical advances33. On the other hand, there were the visits made by artists and resident architects in Rome from the middle of the century, travels made by antiquarians sent by the monarch, and even those by intellectuals and writers such as Leandro Fernández de Moratín, which were also paid for by the Crown.
It was unusual for the monarchy to fund visits to Italy in order to buy antiquities to expand or complete royal collections and thereby facilitate the assimilation of the image of Rome in Spain. The first such trip was undertaken by the painter Diego Velázquez between 1648 and 1651 by order of Philip IV (see above). Ferdinand VI paid for Francisco Pérez Bayer's travels around France and Italy between 1754 and 1759 in order to obtain coins, books, manuscripts and antiquities for the library of the royal palace. In Italy Pérez Bayer met the French abbot Jean-Jacques Barthélemy and Barthélemy corresponded with him after his return. One of the most important results of this expedition was the acquisition of several mosaics, now in the National Archaeological Museum (Madrid). They were bought from the heirs of Cardinal Massimo and discussed by Winckelmann34. The British Library holds a manuscript catalogue of the coins bought during this expedition, written around 1757: Catálogo de las medallas de oro que en Roma y otras ciudades de Italia y Francia compró Dn. Francisco Pérez Bayer, para el Real Museo de Su Magestad Cathólico35. There are 136 coins, part of the cabinet of coins of the royal library (subsequently integrated into the Madrid National Archaeological Museum from its foundation in 1867)36.
The acquisition (through purchase or by legacy) of collections of classical sculpture amassed in Italy was another element of the 'Romanisation' of the monarchy. Rulers decorated their palaces with these statues, giving their buildings an appearance similar to that of the other royal houses of Europe. The two most important collections of the 18th c. were that of Christina of Sweden, purchased by Philip V and Isabella Farnese in 1724 and displayed in the palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia)37, and that of the Spanish ambassador in Rome, José Nicolás de Azara, which was donated in his will to Charles IV and displayed in the Casa del Labrador, Aranjuez38. Casts and copies were easier to obtain, and collections of these played a very important rôle; within the tradition of classical influences alive in the Enlightenment, especially at the end of the 18th c., they served as models for artists in the academies of fine arts and schools of drawing39.
One of the first artists in residence in Rome was Antonio Ponz (1725-1792), later secretary of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. Between 1751 and 1760 he stayed in Rome (as recorded in the biographical prologue of vol. XVIII  of his Viage de España), where he was a member of the Academy of San Luca. In Italy he met Francisco Pérez Bayer (later the royal librarian and tutor to the children of Charles III). Their friendship is documented by Ponz's drawing of the Pantheon for the frontispiece of Pérez Bayer's book Damasus et Laurentius Hispanis asserti et vindicati. Dissertatio historica (Rome 1756). In Ponz's biography, written by his nephew José, it is recorded that he drew and studied the ancient monuments of Rome and other Italian cities always in the company of Pérez Bayer. His visit to Rome coincided with Winckelmann's and with that of the painter Anton Rafael Mengs; the latter had an important influence on the diffusion of the neo-classicism in Spain through the editions of his works made by his good friend, the Spanish ambassador Azara. In the spring of 1759, Ponz travelled to Naples to visit Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Royal Museum of Portici, probably accompanied by Pérez Bayer since their visits coincide.
Unlike foreign writers who often considered the literature of travel important, only a few Spanish visitors wrote about their impressions. Antonio Ponz described his travel around France, the Low Countries, and England in his Viage fuera de España, and we have a few phrases in his biography (vol. XVIII of his Viage de España). Although the Diario del viaje a Italia of Pérez Bayer appears to be lost, there is some information about its content in letters that he wrote to the Valencian scholar Gregorio Mayans. In one, written in Rome on April 23, 1759, he described his visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum and to the court of Charles III in Naples (he does not mention Ponz, though probably he travelled with him)40. The most interesting report, for its quantity of information, came from Leandro Fernández de Moratín. The main aim of his travel was the study of governments, literature, fine arts and theatre in England, France and Italy; his costs were paid directly by Manuel Godoy, the powerful minister in the government of Charles IV.
Nevertheless, architects were the most important of those who travelled to Italy, for they spread the classical image to Spain. Their mission was to study the monuments of antiquity in order to apply ideas about proportions, style and ornamentation in their designs of civil and religious buildings in Spain, and especially in the royal palaces.
The Spanish Bourbon dynasty also promoted the study of classical topics through institutions that were royal foundations, such as the Real Academia de San Fernando and the Real Academia de la Historia. For this purpose, several expeditions with very specific goals were financed; as a result, a national history was established that had strong Greco-Roman roots, and a classical artistic atmosphere was introduced, not only in iconography, but also in architecture and the minor arts. Travels that were paid for by the Crown were initiated by Ferdinand VI and continued by his successors, Charles III and Charles IV. This constitutes the second major phase in the relationship between Spain and Rome.
The tradition in classical architecture that was dominant from the 16th c. onward in Spain, as in other European countries, was based on the interpretation of the writings of Vitruvius by the Renaissance writers of treatises (Vignola, Palladio, Serlio) and, to some extent, on direct observation of Roman monuments. Around 1750, a particular event called this interpretation into question - the discovery of the Greek temples of Paestum (the so-called 'Fortune of the Doric')41.
The temples of Paestum presented a new image of Greek architecture. Goethe described his visit to Paestum, accompanied by the painter Kniep, in a letter dated March 23, 1787. He followed Winckelmann, who had visited the site in 1758. Goethe described his feeling of confusion and annoyance when he saw these temples, which were less slender, cruder and more severe than the reproductions he knew:
Von einem Landmanne ließ ich mich indessen Gebäude herumführen; der erste Eindruck konnte nur Erstaunen erregen. Ich befand mich in einer völlig fremden Welt...42
This confusion was the result of the contrast between Doric architecture and the ideas of classical architecture held in the Renaissance - that is, images derived from Rome and amended by Palladio, Vignola and Serlio, who interpreted Vitruvius. Goethe used reason to reconcile himself to this architecture: he thought about the period to which the temples belonged, the austere style of contemporary sculpture, and he felt the «eigentliche Leben» that the Greek architect had given to the temples. After all, it was Greece, and Greeks were always right.
This surprise was also experienced by other travellers. Consequently, a crisis occurred in the tradition of architectural studies based mainly on Renaissance treatises in the Vitruvian tradition: the reaction adopted simplicity in composition and austerity in ornamentation - rational ideas that corresponded with the principles proposed by Winckelmann.
The return to a 'true and noble architecture' would be possible only through direct study of Vitruvius, and not by taking into account the interpretations, more or less rigorous, derived from Renaissance writers. In Spain there was a serious need for a reliable edition of The ten books of architecture to act as an instrument for the codification of architectural rules and thus facilitate the elaboration of a neo-classical theory during the second half of the 18th c43. There was no accurate translation of Vitruvius in Spain even though the new Vitruvian theories had been introduced since the beginning of the 16th c. through treatises such as Diego de Sagredo's Medidas del Romano (1526)44. This was the first Spanish treatise on classical architecture and also the first in France, translated in 1539 with the title Raison d'architecture antique (though Renaissance art had been introduced into Spain 40 years earlier)45. There were also translations of Serlio such as that from Francisco de Villalpando, Tercero y quarto libro de architectura de Sebastiano Serlio (Toledo 1552), in which can be found the first descriptions of ancient monuments in Rome and the Renaissance buildings modelled after them, with drawings of plans, elevation and decoration46. Cristóbal de Villalón praised Roman architecture, which in his view was superior to modern architecture, in his Ingeniosa comparación entre lo antiguo y lo presente (1539). He described the Colosseum, the Septizonium, and other monuments in Rome and compared them with similar constructions in Spain, such as the bridge of Alcántara and the aqueduct of Segovia47.
The first known translation of Vitruvius was produced by the architect of Granada, Lázaro de Velasco (died 1585). It was made between 1550 and 1565 and published in Alcalá in 1582, although it was attributed to Miguel de Urrea48 for several centuries. The version by José de Castañeda is dated to 1761, but it was actually a translation from the French edition of Charles Perrault, originally produced in 1674. To the difficulties of the Latin text was added a lack of reliable translations, so during the 18th c. there was a need for a new translation directly from Vitruvius.
The first person to attempt such a translation was José de Hermosilla y Sandoval, resident architect in Rome in 1747. José Ortiz y Sanz (1739-1822), priest of the diocese of Valencia from 1767 and chaplain and canon of the school church of San Felipe in Játiva (Alicante) from 1803, devoted himself fully to this same project, and succeeded; he compared the written text with the evidence of ancient architecture. His editions of Vitruvius (1787) and Palladio (1797) played an important part in the debate and in the consolidation of classicism in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando49. He began the translation of Vitruvius in 1777 and on September 26, 1778, visited Rome, funded by Charles III, to study Roman architecture in situ and the Vitruvian codex in the Vatican Library. He travelled on foot around the Campagna, Naples, Baia, Pozzuoli, Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Paestum50. He quickly realised the differences between the ideal architecture described by Vitruvius and converted into an architectural tradition by classical scholars of the Renaissance, and the actual Roman monuments. Responding to criticisms of Vitruvius that were prompted by the inexactitude of his text, for example, those resulting from the re-discovery of Doric architecture, Ortiz y Sanz developed a defence of him by rejecting the two architectural orders that had been invented by Renaissance architects, especially Serlio and Vignola (the Tuscan and the Italic orders). This did not mean, however, the adoption of a new Greek taste.
Ortiz y Sanz returned to Spain in 1784 and in 1788 presented the idea of an archaeological journey around Spain to the count of Floridablanca, the secretary of state. This project, known as the Noticia y plan de un viage arquitectonico-antiquario, encargado por S. M. a Don Joseph Francisco Ortiz el año de 1790, received the approval of Charles III and his successor Charles IV. The aim of the journey was to draw the archaeological and architectural remains of Roman date in Spain in order to find the roots of an authentic Spanish classicism. The project, which was interrupted by the War of Independence, included the description, drawing and study of the well-preserved Roman theatre of Saguntum; the results were published in 1807 under the title Viage arquitectonico-antiquario de España.
To develop his research on Vitruvius, Ortiz y Sanz asked for the collaboration of resident architects in Rome. The minister Floridablanca considered it vital for architects to travel to Rome as part of their education, since Spain did not have the splendour and magnificence of Italy and the country needed good architects who could put into practice Enlightenment ideas about recovering the classical past. By contrast, painters and sculptors in Spain had excellent models to use for their inspiration: these included, for example, the sculptures in the royal collections and the copies and casts in the academies. For this reason, the grants for painters were suppressed in 1784, but the grants for architects continued. The Real Academia de Bellas Artes selected the residents in Rome and controlled their work. The first architects returned in 1760, prepared to apply their knowledge. Before this, however, the Academy had purchased in Rome several books considered fundamental for the theory and practice of classical architecture. They included editions of Vitruvius and of Renaissance architects Alberti, Palladio, Serlio and Vignola; books of plates of Piranesi, Bellori, De Rossi and Bartoli; and the 137 plates of Los edificios antiguos de Roma by Antoine Desgodetz.
In Rome, the resident architects were integrated within the Academy of Spain, in the Palazzo di Spagna at the same location as the embassy. They were directed by José Nicolás de Azara, plenipotentiary minister of Spain at the Holy See. Their work included the measurement and drawing of ancient and Renaissance monuments such as the Tempietto of Bramante on the Janiculum (it belonged to the Spanish Crown from its construction by order of the Catholic monarchs). These practices in turn helped them to plan new buildings that imitated classical models. In a letter to Isidoro Bosarte (secretary of the Real Academia de San Fernando) one resident architect, Silvestre Pérez, expressed clearly the view that the architects in Rome had about their mission:
Do venerate antiquity as the mother of architecture: I consider it a mirror in which we must always look at ourselves; I had this idea before coming to Italy, but after visiting Rome and looking at these precious remains from the past, I am convinced that without a rigorous observation of them we can do nothing51.
The objective was twofold: to obtain a good architectural treatise (through a reliable translation of Vitruvius) and to apply the models. The latter occurred in the construction of new buildings, linked to the power of the Church and the monarchy, and in the restoration of Roman monuments such as the bridge at Mérida52 or the theatre of Saguntum, based on the project of José Ortiz.
The writer Leandro Fernández de Moratín's travels around Europe between 1792 and 1797 were paid for by Manuel Godoy. In the account of these travels, he described the importance to architects of visits to Italy. Thanks to this training, architects
will be able to take to Spain the good taste of the architecture based on the study they have made of antiquity, the unique way to introduce to architecture the elegance of the forms, the magnificence, the convenient distribution, the lightness and robustness, the opportunity and beauty of the ornaments, and especially the economic mechanism of buildings, essential circumstances for the construction of any building, and which are not known among us yet53.
Moratín visited and described the remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as the Portici Museum, founded by Charles III. In Rome he met Azara and the architects Silvestre Pérez, Evaristo del Castillo, and Isidro González Velázquez. Influenced by his friendship with Azara, Mengs's translator, Moratín transmitted in his comments about classical sculptures displayed in museums the notions of Winckelmann and Mengs about simplicity and truth as the origin of beauty:
'this is the true character of the most beautiful works, simplicity, beauty and truth'54. The same idea was later expressed by Keats in his Ode on a Grecian urn («Beauty is truth, truth beauty»).
The architects whom Moratín met in Rome were significant not only for their archaeological drawings but also for their later architectural studies executed in a pure neo-classical style in Spain. Silvestre Pérez and Evaristo del Castillo, residents in Rome from 1790 until 1796, collaborated with Azara in the excavations of the 'Villa of Maecenas' in Tivoli. These excavations (1793-94) produced remains that were considered by Azara to be a unique example of the Doric order in Rome (although the building had two orders, Doric and Ionic)55. The presence of the Doric outside Magna Graecia was communicated to the Real Academia de San Fernando by Azara. This is one of the few examples of Spanish scholars participating in the European debate about the Doric order and the diffusion of the so-called 'Greek' or 'Doric revival' that resulted from the discovery of Paestum56. Its temples had been known since the 16th c. and from the visits of Soufflot in 1750 and Winckelmann in 1758, but an initiative to recover or study them did not develop until the works of Count Felice Gazzola, a noble in the court of Naples, who first drew their plans and elevations, between 1746 and 1761 (although the drawings were unpublished until Paoli did so in 1784). Then they were copied by English and French travellers and architects who spread knowledge of them throughout Europe, as has been recounted by S. Lang57.
The rest of the drawings from the excavation in the Villa of Maecenas were published by Pedro José Márquez, a Mexican Jesuit and protégé of Azara, in the work Illustrazioni della Villa di Mecenate in Tivoli (Rome 1812)58. Pérez and Castillo made plans and drawings of the Theatre of Marcellus, the Porticoes of Octavia and Livia, the Colosseum and the Pantheon, and sent them to the Real Academia de San Fernando59. After Silvestre Pérez returned to Spain, between 1810 and 1812 he became the architect of King Joseph I, brother of Napoléon Bonaparte. Among his classical works were the Tabernacle for Málaga Cathedral, a small circular temple that imitated the 'Temple of the Sibyl' in Tivoli and the Tempietto of Bramante60. Juan de Villanueva was another resident architect in Rome: he is known especially for his project of the Natural Sciences Museum, which from 1819 became the Royal Museum of Paintings and is now the Museo del Prado; he also designed the Palacio de la Moncloa, the Casita del Real Sitio at El Pardo, and the Casita del Príncipe at El Escorial, as well as the small Ionic temple of the Estanque de los Chinescos in the Jardín del Príncipe del Real Sitio at Aranjuez61. Finally, Isidro González Velázquez drew the monuments of Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum, and designed buildings and the interior decoration of the Casa del Labrador at Aranjuez.
An interesting aspect of the relationship between Spain and classical Italy is connected with the excavations encouraged by Charles, king of the Two Sicilies (later Charles III of Spain), at Pompeii and Herculaneum, and with the archaeological works of the Spanish ambassador in Rome, José Nicolás de Azara. The discovery and excavation of Pompeii and Herculaneum from 1738 presented the unexpected possibility of studying the reality of the ancient world. It provided the opportunity to verify ideas derived from literary sources through the study of monumental remains, epigraphy and numismatics from cities that were, as Winckelmann wrote, living museums from antiquity62. However, the excavations did not modify the direction and methodology of the study of antiquity in Spain. The work carried out in Italy was not well known in Spain for several reasons. In other European countries, French (e. g., Charles De Brosses), English (e. g., Sir William Hamilton, ambassador to the court of Naples), and German (e. g., Winckelmann) travellers spread knowledge of the discoveries at Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum through their books, letters, drawings and illustrations. By contrast, in Spain the drawings of Ponz and of José Ortiz y Sanz were unpublished, and none of the travellers described the remains in detail. Although Ponz praised the achievement of Charles III at Pompeii and Herculaneum, he regretted the lack of excavations in Spain and compared the undiscovered wealth of Mérida (Emerita Augusta) with the Italian cities63. The loss of Pérez Bayer's travel diary prevents our knowing if he visited the newly-discovered cities; in his letters to Mayans he mentioned only the museum at Portici. On the other hand, luxurious editions of Antichità di Ercolano, financed by Charles III, were given as presents to individuals and institutions chosen by the king, such as Pérez Bayer and the Royal Academy of History.
The eulogy to Charles III as discoverer of Pompeii is ultimately a rhetorical formula supported by images such as the portrait by Camillo Paderni that appears in the second tome of Antichità di Ercolano. In this book Charles III is portrayed as the archaeologist-king, a model of the enlightened European monarch. Yet, despite previous claims, there was no direct influence of the Pompeian style in Spain, as I have demonstrated elsewhere64. The decoration in the Pompeian style that was applied at the end of the 18th c. in the royal palaces designed by Juan de Villanueva (Casita de San Lorenzo at the Escorial and Palacio de la Moncloa) and by Isidro González Velázquez (Casa del Labrador at Aranjuez) came from French artists established in the Spanish court who had studied in Rome, such as Jean Demosthène Dugourc, disciple of Winckelmann and painter of the wall decorations in the Palacio de la Moncloa.
The architecture, by contrast, came from classical models copied during the visit of the resident architects in Rome. There are not many drawings of monuments of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum that could have been used as models for construction except for the objects published in the catalogues financed by Charles III. It is probable that Antonio Ponz accompanied Pérez Bayer on his visit to the court of Charles III in Naples, but we do not have visual evidence for this journey. The drawings of Ortiz y Sanz for his Instituciones de arquitectura civil were unpublished until a few years ago, and the same is true of the drawings that González Velázquez made in Rome and Paestum, although he did use them for his projects.
At the end of the 18th c. the aesthetic sensibility prevailing in Spain began to change. Reflecting a taste for remains that showed the passage of time, an interest in mediaeval art (not only Christian, but also Islamic) was added -or sometimes placed in opposition- to the traditional enlightened admiration for classicising, rational architecture and ancient monuments. This is evident in the works of Jovellanos (influenced by the English Romantics), Bosarte, or Ponz himself when he speaks about the mosque of Córdoba or the Alhambra in Granada. This fascination among the Spanish intellectuals with the mediaeval world and its artistic manifestations was not new: in 1572 Ambrosio de Morales had described with interest the ancient Romanesque churches (Viage a los reinos de León, y Galicia, y Principado de Asturias); and in the middle of the 18th c. an expedition organised by José de Hermosilla was undertaken with the architects Juan de Villanueva and Juan Pedro Arnal to draw the Islamic monuments of Córdoba and Granada65.
The possibilities for the study of classical antiquity, in Rome and in Spain, promoted by the Academy of History and the Real Academia de San Fernando were cut short by the War of Independence against Napoleon (1808-14) and by the later absolutist reign of Ferdinand VII. These events caused a regression in the intellectual and cultural climate, especially in archaeological and historical studies. After the death of Ferdinand VII in 1833, Spain attempted to recover lost time and to re-establish its traditional link with Rome. To this end, two institutions were established in Rome: the Spanish Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1873 to receive resident architects and artists, and the Spanish School of History and Archaeology, founded in 1910.
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