Painting in the Spanish Enlightenment

Artists at Court and in the Academy

Authored by: Andrew Schulz

The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415722834
eBook ISBN: 9781315709895
Adobe ISBN:


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Two events in the early 1750s had an important impact on the course of painting in Spain during the second half of the eighteenth century. Although both occurred during the reign of Ferdinand VI (ruled 1746–1759), they were the culmination of lengthy preparation and the legacy of the centralized arts policy imported from France by Philip V (ruled 1700–1746). The first of these events was the execution of the initial ceiling frescos in the new royal palace in Madrid, undertaken by the Neapolitan painter Corrado Giaquinto (1703–1766). With the notable exception of Francisco Goya (1746–1828), the decoration of the new palace would occupy the most important foreign and native painters working in Spain during the second half of the eighteenth century. The other signal event was the founding of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando (hereafter “the academy”) in 1752. Of the thirteen painters, sculptors, and architects who composed the academy’s preparatory committee (created by royal decree in 1744), six had been called to Madrid from abroad to work at the Bourbon court. The institution they established provided a training ground for the Spanish-born artists who came to dominate painting in Spain by the late 1770s.

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