The Spanish Golden Age: literature, painting and music –

From the culmination of the Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula by the Catholic Monarchs and coinciding with the discovery of America (1492), an era of boom began in Spain that corresponds to its imperial and artistic apogee, this era lasted in the time until it was finished in 1681, the date on which Calderón de la Barca died, this era of splendor in science, politics and art is known as the Spanish Golden Age. Do you want to know more about The Spanish Golden Age: its literature, painting and music? We tell you everything.

The importance of the Book in the Golden Age

If there is a technological innovation that promoted the development of culture, it is, without a doubt, “Print”. The appearance of the printing press allowed the large-scale dissemination of literary works, as well as the dissemination and generalization of the use of “Vulgar” languages, making available to the populations not only the great flow of newly created works, but also the enormous volume of classic works, both of literary art and of philosophical and political thought, as well as the knowledge of History.

The cornerstone of this period so brilliant in Spain revolved around the great importance ofthe world of the book. The main book producers were Belgium and Holland, since the political and social situation freed them from the terrible censorship of the time. Book trade starts fastinitially with the sale of books to students until, little by little, stores and book stores were created until reaching the sales levels of today.

The formats of the books were changing, each time its size was more manageable and its price cheaper, which made literature reach more people, making it much easier to obtain copies of classic writers, who otherwise could not be accessed. With the appearance of the book, knowledge, political, religious, philosophical thoughts, history, art, everything was closer to town.

Literature in the Golden Age

In this period, in Spain there was a literary boom of unrepeatable quality while we were, like the rest of European countries, in the publishing shadow of Holland and Belgium. Spanish writers, both novelists, poets and playwrights, wrote works that crossed our language and our bordersplacing us together with Shakespeare’s England at the world literary vanguard.

The success of a work was not only due to its literary quality since the great aristocrats were the ones who acted as patrons of literary works, causing writers to be forced to live under the protection of the powerful and rich, which in turn, incited fierce competition between them, a very representative example was the enmity between Lope de Vega, secretary of the Duke of Sessa and Quevedo secretary of Osuna.

On the other hand, the appearance of the comedy pens, where the authors and promoters could be acclaimed or the plays sabotaged by whistling or booing the actors. Theatrical performance format that brought this genre closer to the population. Less wealthy authors could not even buy books due to the excessive price of paper. In addition, it was difficult to publish since each book needed a fee and a religious to approve its content.

Renaissance Literature

The Renaissance arrived in Spain quite late about other places in Europe, our rebirth appears at the beginning of the 16th century, with which caused a rapid absorption of Renaissance literary models, especially the Italian style.

The Spanish Golden Age In its cultural aspect, it reached its peak at the hands of new artistic currents: Mannerism and Baroque.

Juan Luis Vives, Los Hermanos de Valdés or Francisco de Vitoria, They were the first writers who began to stand out in the literary field, although with a marked economic nature.

New sciences appear, the so-called experimental ones, together with them arise study centers such as the Casa de la Contratación or the Library of El Escorial. And as a consequence, other applied sciences were developed, such as naval sciences, cartography or mining.

In the middle of the 16th century, Renaissance literature also began to bear its first fruits with representatives such as Garcilaso de la Vegaof clear Italian inspiration, and Friar Luis de Leon.

in novelsthe picaresque genre emerged strongly, with “El Lazarillo de Tormes” in 1554, one of the best-known works of the Golden Age, is the beginning of a critique of the dominant values ​​of honor and hypocrisyrooted in appearances, which will find its culmination and canonical configuration with the first part of «Guzmán de Alfarache» (1599)», a picaresque novel written by German Matthew.

In mystical literaturethe best representatives of all time in terms of religious or mystical literature are Saint Teresa of Jesusof the most important mystical works of a didactic nature that the saint wrote, we can highlight “The Path of Perfection (1562-1564)” or “The Interior Castle” and Saint John of the Crosswith works such as “Dark Night”, “Spiritual Song” and “Llama de Amor Viva”.

baroque literature

The Spanish Baroque knew a glorious time. Francis Quevedo, representative of conceptism is a strong defender of morality and a great writer of love poems. Luis de Gongorathe greatest exponent of culteranismo with his “Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea” (1613).

The essays are reborn with Baltasar Gracian and his «Criticón», and above all, the Hispanic narrative from the hand of the own Quevedo with his «Buscón», Matthew German and his «Guzmán de Alfarache» or Miguel de Cervantes with the masterpiece of Spanish literature, “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha”.

Finally, also framed within the Spanish Baroque, couldn’t stay behind theaterand from this period is also our greatest exponent, the Phoenix of Wits, the prolific playwright Lope de Vega, author of great works such as “El Caballero de Olmedo” or “Fuenteovejuna”. Tirso de Molina, with “The Trickster of Seville” or Calderon de la Barcaanother of our great authors, with “Life is a Dream” and “The Mayor of Zalamea”, are some of the most representative works of the Golden Age.

Already entered the seventeenth century and while Spanish society begins to experience its decline, as a result of the progressive ruin to which the Spanish State is subjected to maintain all its colonies, which determines the end of the Spanish Golden Age.

The Architecture of the Golden Age

As the Golden Age encompasses several artistic, political and social periods, in terms of architecture it also goes through different stages, we go from the Plateresque style, to the Renaissance, to Mannerism, Churrigueresque and Baroque.

In Spain, the Renaissance began together with Gothic forms in the last decades of the fifteenth century. The style began to spread above all, at the hands of local architects, it is the reason for a specifically Spanish Renaissance stylewhich gathered the influence of southern Italian architecturesometimes from illustrated books and paintings, with the gothic tradition and the local idiosyncrasy.

The new style is called plateresque, due to the excessively decorated facades, reminiscent of the intricate work of silversmiths. Classical orders and candlestick motifs (candelieri) are freely combined in symmetrical sets.

The pinnacle of the Spanish Renaissance is represented by the Royal Monastery of El Escorialmade by Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera, with classic forms surpassed by the extremely sober style. The influence of Flemish ceilings, the symbolism of sparse decoration and the precise cutting of granite laid the foundation for a new style, the herrerian.

When the Italian baroque influences arrived in Spain, they were changing and substituting the popular taste for the sober classicist taste that had been in fashion since the 16th century. The local baroque maintains roots in Herrera and in traditional brick construction, developed in Madrid throughout the 17th century as the “Plaza Mayor” and the old “Ayuntamiento de Madrid”.

Painting in the Golden Age

Artists travel very little and painters only go to Italy for a short period of time. Only Ribera and Velazquez They will delve into the Italian school. The Stages or phases in which we can divide the Painting of the Golden Age, are three that coincide with three different Austrias.

  • 1st Stage, First third of the 17th century, reign of Philip III
  • 2nd Stage, Second third of the 17th century, reign of Felipe IV
  • 3rd Stage, Third third of the 17th century, reign of Carlos II

Spanish painting was a very special style of painting, creating its own school, which has recently been recognized. We can divide into three phases, a The first phase correspond, Pedro and Alonso de Berruguete, Pedro Machuca, Luis de Morales “the Divine”, Juan de Juanes and Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina.

to the second phase Juan Fernandez de Navarrete, “the Mute”, Alonso Sanchez Coello just like him Greek, main exponent of Pictorial mannerism in Castile.

To the baroque belong Diego Velázquez, painter of complex intellectualized compositions who delves into the mystery of harsh and intense light and aerial perspective, the tenebrists Francisco de Zurbaran, great painter of friars and still lifes, Francisco Ribalta and Jose de Riberatrained in Italy where he was called “el Españoleto”, and who was particularly good at skin tones.

In sevilla the two Herreras (the Old and the Young), Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, positive pole against the gloomy Juan de Valdes Leal, and in Cordoba Antonio del Castillo.

The Music of the Golden Age

This was also the golden age for Spanish music. The court composers not only composed their works but also joined their work as playwright and poet, a good example is Juan del Encina in the 15th and 16th century or in the 17th century John Hidalgo, who music the zarzuelas of Pedro Calderón de la Barca as he will also do Tomas de Torrejon y Velasco.

They stand out among them Juan del Encina, important court musician, Luis de Narvaez, a great composer who composed outstanding works such as the “emperor’s song” so called because it was the favorite of Emperor Charles V and which was later, like so many works of this period, transcribed on the guitar, since originally most of these Works were composed for instruments such as the vihuela or the lute. In addition, it is worth mentioning other composers such as Diego Pisador, Luis de Milan, etc..

the jackfruit was a poetic and theatrical genre of the Spanish Golden Age, but also it was music and choreography. His verses take us into a world of ruffians and prostitutes who formed nuclei of a certain power in the marginal neighborhoods of the main cities of the 16th and 17th centuries, with a predominance of Seville, Madrid and Valencia.

Among all the works of the Golden Age related to the field of music, the development of the…