Art, Faith and Empire: The Golden Age of Spanish Art

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Art, Faith and Empire: The Golden Age of Spanish Art

Art, Faith and Empire: The Golden Age of Spanish Art

Art, Faith and Empire: The Golden Age of Spanish Art

Tuesday 4 – Friday 7 February, 11am – 1:30pm

This course will explore the artwork of the Spanish Golden Age from the vibrant altarpieces of El Greco to Velázquez’s complex court portraits and Murillo’s soft religious works. The lectures will situate the artworks in the dynamic historical contexts from which they come: Seville as the bustling port full of exotic goods and Madrid with its stiff courtly proceedings. Three sessions in the Great Gallery will bring you face to face with some of the masterpieces from the period, by Murillo, Velazquez and Alonso Cano, including the newly conserved Baltasar Carlos in the Riding School. Taught by Isabelle Kent.

Tuesday 4 February 2020:

Titian’s greatest patron: Philip II’s art collection

Lecture Theatre

Philip II ruled over the Spanish kingdoms at the very height of its wealth, power and global influence. In this lecture we will explore his reign through the lens of art patronage: from his early portraits by Titian and his commission of the poesie, to the later works of the female court painter Sofonisba Anguissola.

The Greek in Spain: El Greco and his religious paintings

Lecture Theatre

How did a painter trained in the byzantine tradition of his native Crete become one of the most inventive and important artists of 16th century Spain? This lecture will look at El Greco’s development as a painter in Crete, Venice, Rome and Toledo, as well as his late great paintings, which so upset both the Church and the royal family.


Wednesday 5 February 2020:

Diego Velázquez and the Court of Philip IV

Lecture Theatre

Diego Velázquez moved from Seville to Madrid in the hope of finding his fortune. As court painter he rubbed shoulders with the most powerful men in the world and painted them with an intimacy never before seen. This lecture will consider Velázquez’s time in court, his powerful subjects and his extraordinary artistic development. We will end with one of the most complex portraits ever painted: Las Meninas.

Velazquez at the Wallace Collection

The Great Gallery

The Wallace Collection has two great paintings by Velazquez and another three that are closely linked to the painter. We will investigate the stories behind the sitters and look closely at Velázquez’ techniques. We will also contemplate the mystery of the newly cleaned Baltasar Carlos in the Riding School and try to answer the unanswerable: is it by Velázquez?


Thursday 6 February 2020:

The Spiritual and the Theatrical: Spanish polychrome sculpture

Lecture Theatre

During the 17th century polychrome sculpture was an essential part of religious life. The greatest sculptor, Juan Martínez Montañéz, was so revered he was nicknamed the ‘God of Wood’. This lecture will discuss the artistry of these objects as well as their Counter-Reformation spiritual and theatrical uses. Even today these sculptures are still part of the religious experience in Spain.


Alonso Cano, Saint John the Evangelist's Vision of Jerusalem, 1635–38

The Great Gallery

In this lecture we will dive into a single work of art by the painter, sculptor and architect Alonso Cano. By exploring the artist’s biography, the religious subject and the unusual and tender composition we will gain an insight into the mind of the 17th century believer and understand what a painting like this would have meant to them.


Friday 7 February 2020:

Murillo and Baroque Seville: the City of Faith, Art and Empire

Lecture Theatre

In this lecture I will discuss the vibrant artistic centre of Seville. It was the gateway to the Americas and the birthplace of two of Spain’s greatest painters: Velázquez and Murillo. Unlike Velázquez, Murillo stayed in Seville all his life, and his work shaped the very fabric of his city.


A very British obsession: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo at the Wallace Collection

The Great Gallery

Murillo is the Spanish artist best represented in the Wallace Collection. This is not accident as throughout the 18th and 19th centuries British collectors would pay inordinate amounts to buy his greatest pictures. During this hour we will look at some of Murillo’s masterpieces, discussing their subjects and hidden meanings as well as the long and occasionally violent journeys that lead to these pictures being displayed in the beautiful Great Gallery.



Isabelle Kent

Isabelle is an art historian, writer and lecturer specialising in Spanish art. From 2017 to 2019 she worked as the Enriqueta Harris Frankfort Curatorial Assistant of Spanish Painting at the Wallace Collection. She lectures regularly for the V&A, the Art Fund and the Wallace Collection, and also works as a freelance writer. Isabelle is currently editing a volume on collecting the works of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in Britain. She received her BA in History of Art from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2017.


Date & Times

Date Start Time End Time
04/02/2020 11:00 13:30

Ticket Information

Ticket type Price
Short Course Gen. Admission £152
Short Course Concession £137
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