The Metropolitan Museum of Art's small but excellent collection of Spanish polychrome sculpture, including sacred reliefs and freestanding carved figures once housed in the churches of Spain, is displayed in the gallery adjacent to the newly reopened Vélez Blanco Patio. The selection, which displays the unique blending of early western European and Islamic stylistic and technical influences, emphasizes the diversity in the material culture of Renaissance Spain after the Catholic reconquest by Ferdinand and Isabella.
The sculptures—including many objects never before on public display—date from the early sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, and are augmented by groupings of Spanish decorative arts, religious and secular alike, displayed to reveal the varied strands of influence—Moorish, Flemish, and Italian Renaissance—that enriched the glittering and vibrant decorative arts of Rennaissance Spain. Notable images of saints and martyrs venerated in Spain, such as John the Baptist (ca. 1620–30, by Juan Martínez Montañés, and a brilliantly gilded relief, The Holy Family with the Saints Anne and Joachim (1567–68), by Diego de Pesquera, are on view for the first time in several years. Lustered ceramics and other pottery and tilework, metalwork of precious silver as well as iron and bronze, and colorful glassware all contribute to the understanding of the brilliant multifaceted culture of Spain in the wake of the reconquest. Among the rarest pieces of the sixty-five works on display are two exceptional eleven-foot-high embroidered hangings (47.72 and 48.1) depicting heroic events from the reconquest, newly restored after decades in storage and returned to view for this special exhibition.
This exhibition is presented in conjunction with the exhibition The Forgotten Friezes from the Castle of Vélez Blanco.
Dish, early 17th century. Spanish (Catalonian). Tin-enameled earthenware. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Cloisters Fund, 1956 (56.171.145)