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Ricardo Fernández Gracia, Director of the Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art.

Heritage and identity (13). Burins, paintbrushes and chisels at the service of illustrious Navarrese (I)

Fri, 17 May 2019 10:24:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Those Navarrese who stood out for the cultivation of letters, their gifts of government, arms or their virtue, had evocative portraits of their report, which perpetuated them as authentic exempla before their neighbors in public places. Funerary art is a good witness since medieval times. In some cases, mainly those belonging to religious orders, their image was multiplied in engraved prints, thanks to open intaglio plates, even in the Netherlands or Rome. For domestic consumption, their painted portraits were placed in town halls from the 18th century onwards. In the 20th century, they made a qualitative and quantitative leap to become part of the urban landscape, hand in hand with the plastic arts, with their presence in commemorative monuments.

We leave out of these paragraphs the great portraits of the founders of some convents, such as the Recollects of Pamplona or the Poor Clares of Arizcun, because they have always been out of the public eye, with a view reserved only for the nuns of those institutions. For the same reason, we will not deal with viceroys, nobles and statesmen who had portraits in their family homes, but without public transcendence, because they were hung in private areas of the domestic space. All that refers to the painted or sculpted images of the Navarrese saints, visible mainly in the temples, will also be left for another occasion.

As a premise, it will not be superfluous to remember that portraiture in past centuries was reserved for those who, because of their knowledge and virtue, could become role models, although as a genre we must also consider the great issue of portraits that we find in miniature and religious painting, in the latter case, either as donors, as extras or "ritratti in assistenza", and even as "portraits of the divine", of people with attributes of saints, destined for the family environment. As a genre, the portrait developed especially from the Renaissance period, when anthropocentrism led to the secularization of the arts.


Prints and portraits: from burins to lithographs

Prominent nobles, writers and prominent men of Church and State deserved to turn to engravings in the 17th and 18th centuries, generally accompanying their biographies or books of their authorship, but also in single engravings. Let us recall, by way of example, some intaglio prints. The one of Friar Raimundo Lumbier, Carmelite friar of Sangüesa and Holy Master official document (1616-1684) was made by Ricard Collin in Brussels, and served as model to some paintings since the beginning of the XVIII century. subject The life of Friar Juan de Jesús San Joaquín (1590-1669), a Discalced Carmelite with a life surrounded by all kinds of admirable events, was popularized with his biography printed in 1684. To accompany the Pamplona edition of the same in 1753, Fray José de San Juan de la Cruz, skilled in the handling of burins, made a plate, with which loose prints were also thrown.

The Dominican friar Vicente Bernedo (1562-1619), apostle of Charcas and native of Puente la Reina had a biography written by José Pérez de Beramendi (Pamplona, Pedro José Ezquerro, 1750), illustrated with his portrait made by the silversmith Manuel Beramendi, which was also printed as a single print. The figure, bust-length, with the habit of his order, is accompanied by the coats of arms of Puente la Reina, Navarre, the Dominicans and of his surname. The rhetorical degree scroll of the biography alludes directly to its origin, since it begins with this text: Tessoro escondido de el nobilissimo Reyno de Navarra. To further enhance the identity, it is also accompanied by a full-page engraving of the coat of arms of Puente la Reina, with a royal crown, lions on the sides and horns of plenty at the bottom, made by the silversmith José Ezpetillo.

Among those of the Navarre Jesuits, we will highlight a couple because of their projection. Father Pedro de Calatayud (1689-1773), Jesuit of Tafalla, great preacher and apostle of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus was represented in his apostolic work with the Crucifix in his hand, noose around his neck, the crown of thorns on his head, being stated that he was a native of Tafalla. Father Francisco Javier Idiáquez (1711-1790), a great humanist with high positions of responsibility in the Society of Jesus, has another anonymous intaglio portrait, which presents him as a writer and intellectual, in front of the shelves of his Library Services.

However, the son of Navarre who had the most engraved portraits and even paintings was the viceroy bishop Juan de Palafox (1600-1659), although it is true that the circumstances of his birth hid him in many occasions, but not in all, since paintings and engravings show his coming to the world in Fitero.

At the end of the 18th century and imitating some French projects, the series of Portraits of Illustrious Spaniards was undertaken, which constituted one of the best collections of the National Chalcography in the Spain of the Enlightenment. It was in 1788, when the administrative office of State projected its realization, under the auspices of the Count of Floridablanca. After the mandatory reports, it was decided to pay 400 reales for each drawing and 3,000 reales for the printing plate. The goal of the series, in which great enthusiasm was put into, was to make known, mainly abroad, the great Spanish personalities. In addition to the portraits themselves, summaries or epitomes were prepared, in the form of small biographies, which were commissioned to various educated and literary subjects. In this collection appeared the portraits of the Navarrese Martín de Azpilcueta in 1792 (engraving by Manuel Salvador Carmona for drawing by Buenaventura Salesa); Bartolomé de Carranza in 1795 (engraving by Juan Barcelón, for drawing by José Maea); Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada in 1797 (engraving by Mariano Brandi, for drawing by José Maea). In the same series, Pedro Navarro (1797, engraving by Juan Brunetti, by drawing by José Maea) is attributed to be born in Cantabria and Juan de Palafox (1792, engraving by Mariano Brandi, by drawing by José Maea) in Aragón.

Regarding the nineteenth-century lithographs, the file General of Navarre keeps a remarkable issue of them belonging to prominent Navarrese men, especially politicians and military men. Times had changed and the preponderance of religious men gave way to those of other social groups. Among them we will highlight several from the contemporary military gallery of 1846 (Francisco Espoz y Mina, Tomás de Zumalacárregui, Joaquín Elío) and from the Army General Staff of 1851-1860 (lieutenant generals Martín José de Iriarte, born in Urriza and Francisco Javier Ezpeleta from Pamplona and field marshal Ignacio Gurrea, born in Ujué, among others). Lithographic prints of the musicians Hilarión Eslava and Emilio Arrieta circulated in the printing presses and illustrated weeklies in the last third of the 19th century. In many cases allusion was made to their condition as Navarrese.


At the Palacio Foral

The throne room and the façade of the palace of Navarre exhibit in their sculpted medallions two sets of men who stood out for different reasons. In the royal hall (1861-1865), together with the monarchs of Navarre and some legendary and historical facts about them, there is room for outstanding men. Those who had distinguished themselves in administration, sanctity, exemplarity, law or the arts, also had their place in the form of busts. In this case, the chronology covers the centuries of the Ancient Regime and combines old and new models of sanctity (Saint Fermín and Saint Francisco Javier), exemplarity (Bishop Joaquín Javier Úriz with his charity project ), the defense of the kingdom (Marshal Pedro de Navarra), artists (Martín Pérez de Estella and Miguel de Anchieta), historians (Príncipe de Viana and P. Moret), and legal scholars (Cardinal Zalba and Doctor Navarro). Their presence was a reminder that Navarre had been a composite or corporate body, in which the king was the heart and the head, and the vassals who defended, preserved and maintained it.

The façade, which until a few years ago housed the file General de Navarra, was built with project by Florencio de Ansoleaga in 1898. Its medallions correspond to the following characters linked to the history of Navarre: Juan de Jaso, José Moret, Juan de Sada, Ximénez de Rada, Martín de Azpilcueta, Jerónimo de Arbolancha, Fray Diego de Estella and the first Prince of Viana.

Inside the palace some portraits are preserved, among them a gallery with the presidents of the institution. We will mention the one of Don Tiburcio Redín (1597-1651), brave military and marine. It is a copy of an original from the Prado Museum, attributed to Fray Juan Rizi, which signature Rosa Iribarren, the first woman to receive a scholarship from the Diputación Foral de Navarra to study in Madrid, between 1924 and 1926, of whom we know other copies of famous paintings from the Prado and creative production staff.


In the City Councils

If there was an ad hoc space to pay recognition to the prominent men in towns and cities, it was that of the Town Halls. From the end of the 18th century and particularly in the following centuries, the painted portraits and large photographs of the outstanding sons would take over from the cheers with the names of the illustrious sons on their façades of the Baroque centuries. At a later stage, already in the 20th century, the public monument would also take over, hand in hand with the plastic arts.

On many occasions those paintings were in the very halls of sessions, as the most important and emblematic place of municipal power. The portraits came to be something like an exaltation of the virtus of the notables who had excelled in letters, law or service to the State or the Church, a true speculum republicae that reflected the exempla in which to imitate their effort, work, hard work and perseverance to achieve success in their various careers as military, teachers, ecclesiastics, governors or academics.

The Town Hall of Sangüesa preserves the portraits of several sons of the city. That of the Carmelite Friar Raimundo Lumbier, known by his contemporaries as "Phoenix of the Ingenious, Universal Master of the Orb and deserving of the Supreme Tiara", in a full-length portrait. The portrait of Don Fermín de Lubián (1690-1770), prior of the cathedral since 1746, a diligent, highly educated man and a great connoisseur of history, was painted around 1770.

The Pamplona consistory has, among others, the portraits of Carlos III the Noble by Enrique Zubiri (1923), and Julián Gayarre and Hilarión Eslava by Salustiano Asenjo (1883 and 1884). As for Sarasate, it has portraits of the mentioned Asenjo (1883) and of José Llaneces (1894 and 1901) studied by J. L. Molins and I. Urricelqui. His image also appeared in the San Fermín festival posters of 1901 and 1908 and in the hand programs of 1889 and 1893.

In the plenary hall of the Town Hall of Corella are the portraits of the minister and president of the Supreme Court Eduardo Alonso Colmenares (1822-1888) and of the minister Francisco de Paula Escudero (1764-1831). Both are dated 1925 and are the work of the painter Marcelino García, copying period originals. In a photograph provided by Ramón Villanueva, we can identify two other portraits that hung in the plenary hall in 1931, namely the liberal minister José Alonso Ruiz de Conejares (1781-1855) and Fermín Arteta (1796-1880), a military man and politician. In the latter case, it was a copy of the original by Esquivel, preserved in the Arrese collection.

In that of Estella, there is an excellent set of royal portraits, that of Fray Diego de Estella, the work of Javier Ciga (1924), while in that of Tudela there are those of Fray José Vicente Díaz Bravo, from the second half of the 18th century, José Yanguas y Miranda, the work of César Muñoz Sola and of José María Méndez Vigo, adopted son since 1915, the work of Nicolás Esparza. Also preserved in Tudela is a canvas by Miguel Sanz Benito from 1838, commissioned by the city council, with the names of the benefactors of the city accompanied by symbols and attributes of letters, arts and abundance. In that of Fitero, the photographs of the bishops Miguel de los Santos Díaz y Gómara (1920) and José María García Lahiguera (1949) occupied places of honor.

In that of Puente la Reina is kept that of the discalced Carmelite friar Domingo de San José -Arbizu y Munárriz- (1799-1870), general of his order who visited his native town, in honor of multitudes, in 1868. A. Santesteban in the monograph of the Carmelite that, after his death, a popular subscription was opened to acquire two copies of his portrait that was in the Eternal City, painted by a lay brother of the order who had obtained the first award in a Roman exhibition . One of the copies was for the municipal plenary hall and the other for the sacristy of the parish of Santiago, where it would be placed next to the portraits of Ximénez de Rada and Vicente Bernedo. They sent estimates from Rome - the full-length portrait 50 duros and the long bust 25 duros - but the wish did not come true until 1894, when the composer Domingo Arrieta, related to Fr. Domingo, died, and the mayor's office took advantage of the occasion to pay homage to both of them.

The House of the Roncal Valley, inaugurated in 1956, was enriched in its plenary hall by a set of portraits of the illustrious sons of the Valley: Julián Gayarre, Pedro Navarro, Pedro Vicente Gambra, Cipriano Barace and Gregorio Cruchaga. According to data kindly provided by José Ignacio Riezu, all of them were painted by Juan Antonio Escartín Bescós, a painter established in Madrid, for 35,550 pesetas in 1963.