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Ricardo Fernández Gracia, Director of the Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art.
Work and days in Navarrese art (23). Images of celebration, leisure and fun
The world of Romanesque art left ample testimonies in its iconic repertoire of profane themes that coexisted with the sacred ones on the façades and interiors of churches, as well as in the cloisters. Some of those motifs, suitably moralized, became transmitters of religious thought, although on other occasions it is very difficult to look for more transcendence than that of a resource of those responsible for the programs in order to make the Christian message more attractive.
The centuries of the Gothic saw the growth and development of that profane aspect, as can be seen in the mercies of the choirs, the margins of illustrated manuscripts or monumental sculpture. For this late medieval period we have an excellent monographic work by E. Martínez de Lagos, graduate Ocio, diversión y espectáculo en la escultura gótica. The churches of Navarre as a mirror of a medieval reality. The themes of leisure and amusement present a certain abundance, although it is not always easy to specify whether it is a spectacle, a game or a sport.
The Renaissance and Baroque periods, so rich in relationships of all kinds subject, did not bequeath us images of those ephemeral festivities that, as such, were prepared quickly, lived with intensity and forgotten rather quickly. The unavoidable components of those festivities were the music, the scenery, the bells, the gunpowder, the fireworks and, on many occasions, the excess of food and drink. On the other hand, it is well known that the artistic expressions of the Counter-Reformation gave less space to all those themes, which once had their own space, as they required propriety, decorum and historicity from the artists. The genre painting that represented musicians and dances, as well as festivities of all kinds subject, did not reach Navarre.
As in other subjects related to ordinary and daily life, it would be photography, since the 19th century, the one called to collect graphically testimonies of everything related to leisure and fun. At the same time, painters such as Javier Ciga left splendid samples of people's amusements and other artists of a lesser category, such as Florentino Andueza, went into great detail in their drawings of popular festivities.
Some medieval examples
Games, animal fights and tournaments are present in different scenarios. At the head of the recreation of a confrontation between knights are the capital of the fight between Rolan and Ferragut of the palace of Estella and the combat between knights of the capital of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fair Love of Santa Catalina de Azcona, both from the 12th century.
The leave Age average, as we have already mentioned, was prodigal in this subject of representations, according to the studies of professors Fernández-Ladreda, Martínez Álava and Martínez de Lagos. At the top of the list are those related to minstrelsy, bullfighting festivals and exercise and fighting games.
Some late medieval capitals and corbels are excellent examples of scenes of bullfighting, tournaments, contortionists and wrestling. The cloister of the cathedral of Pamplona, so rich in profane iconography, has themes of musicians and minstrels, bullfighting and wrestling. All these representations are a testimony of the way of life and the way of thinking and feeling of a society in which the distinction between the sacred and the profane was very blurred and both worlds were linked and intermingled with each other.
The world of minstrelsy and musicians was totally immersed in the culture of the time. On many occasions, the references are liturgical due to their context but, on other occasions, the reasons for their presence may be due to didactic, aesthetic or symbolic motivations and be related to entertainment and amusement, despite the condemnation of profane songs by the writers of the time. In relation to the festive world, it is of obligatory quotation the capital of the carola of the cloister of Pamplona, or representation of the medieval dance par excellence. In the cloisters of the monasteries of La Oliva and Pamplona, and in the ensembles of Olite, Ujué, San Zoilo de Cáseda and other monuments we find numerous musical iconography.
As for the instruments represented, it is always good to reread the study of musical iconography of the Pamplona cloister by Professor Fernández-Ladreda and the work of Enrique Galdeano Aguirre.
The scenes of bullfighting festivities must be related, as Isabel Mateo Gómez pointed out, to those territories where the breeding and fighting of fighting bulls have tradition and roots. In the cathedral cloister, the Barbazana chapel, the parish of Cizur Mayor and the nave of San Zoilo de Cáseda there are representations of bulls being speared. In the cathedral refectory, completed in 1335, there is sample on a polychrome corbel the best example of the mancorneo scene, in which a strong bearded man appears holding the bull's horns, while a bulldog bites the animal's left ear.
Scenes of exercise with unarmed fighters can be found in the cloister of Pamplona, San Saturnino de Artajona, Santa María de Olite, Cizur Mayor and Ujué. In Cáseda the fight is associated to the dice game and the contenders with weapons appear in San Zoilo de Cáseda, the Barbazana and the cloister of the Navarrese capital. The development of these challenge scenes should be related to the chivalric ideal and the world of tournaments and jousting.
The game with the playing cards published in Pamplona
Among the material and visual testimonies that have been preserved of the Ancient Regime in Navarre in relation to leisure and entertainment, we will highlight some playing cards published in Pamplona, which were studied by Ignacio Baleztena. Around 1630, the capital of Navarre gave up the tobacco control of playing cards in favor of the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia, following the request of the Cortes to the Crown. The reasons given for this were that the establishment had to attend to all kinds of illnesses and house the poor.
The oldest known playing cards date from 1688 and are made in a rudimentary way. The production in Pamplona lacked quality, so they were smuggled in from France and Aragon. In view of this, the administrators sent an expert from Verona, José Floren, to subject. In 1768, Pedro Berangot made playing cards with drawings similar to the previous ones, although with better quality. In 1759, an agreement was reached with the Frenchman Carlos Requiran, who was to manufacture the playing cards in San Sebastián, where he had his workshop, for a period of four years, according to the deck of sample chosen by the Hospital. In 1784 the workshop was leased to Manuel Antonio de Balmaseda for six years. In 1789 the board of the Hospital placed Marcos Barangot, master cardmaker and neighbor of San Sebastián, at position of the factory for an unlimited period of time. To the XIX century belong several card runs, such as the one of 1875 made by José Serrano.
Royal visits, historical scenes, bullfighting and pelota.
Fortunately, we preserve spaces built for the celebration, especially those of the centuries of the Modern Age, highlighting the place Nueva de Tudela built between 1687 and 1691. The forms and the protocol were evolving during the XVII century towards an opulence, never seen before. In fact, in 1621, the Courts of Navarre, in relation to tournaments, costumes and rings, expressed themselves as follows: "The expenses that are made on the occasions of general and public festivities that are offered in this Kingdom are so excessive and great, that they force to look carefully for the remedy of this damage".
If the descriptions of celebrations of all subject in past centuries are abundant, the same is not true of their graphic representation. Exceptional are the two engravings that represent the Cortes de Navarra of the Ancien Régime, the work of Dionisio de Ollo (1686) and Manuel Albuerne (1816). Some royal visits were captured in the illustrations of the 1766 edition of the Annals and in paintings such as the view of Pamplona in the visit of Philip IV by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo (1647-1648) preserved in a reduction in The Wellington Museum, and of which there are fragments in various collections, including one in the Museo Lázaro Galdiano. Palomino, painter and treatise writer, saw the views of Zaragoza and Pamplona in the Pasadizo de la Encarnación in Madrid, praising them as "an excellent thing, because not only are the sites executed with great punctuality, but with stories of those coincidences, which in the countryside usually occur, some snacking and others walking, either on foot or on horseback, observing the costumes of that time or style of the land, with such property and so well regulated the degradation of the figures according to their distances, that it is a marvel, because from the proportion of the immediate ones to the castle or walls, the greatness of their factories can be inferred".
As for historical and specific passages of local life captured in stone or wood, the stone relief of the Renaissance cloister of the monastery of Fitero (c. 1545), which represents the entrance of the abbot in the town of his lordship, with the presence of the Cistercian community and the mayor in a civic-religious procession, should be highlighted for its exceptional nature. But, because of its festive character, special mention should be made of the submission of the three cows, documented in the Roncal valley since 1375, which was represented for the first time in the arts in a sacred setting, on one of the panels of the choir stalls of the parish church of Isaba, a work from the first third of the 18th century, possibly by the sculptor Pascual de Lorea, who was examined in Pamplona in 1686 and died around 1736.
Very few images have remained until recent times of the two hobbies that held the first place in entertainment: pelota and bullfighting. As far as bullfighting scenes are concerned, no canvases have been preserved that copied the numerous eighteenth-century engravings of that theme. Monumental testimony is the bullfighting balcony of the town hall of Viana in the bullring, a monumental work erected from 1685 by Juan de Raón and other masters, imitated by other bullfighting balconies for the town council and the nobles, whose designs are preserved in the file General de Navarra. The posters and programs of the San Fermin festivities are another of the great artistic manifestations of the bullfighting festival. The study of the posters has been the object of a conscientious work by I. Urricelqui. Regarding the programs, they generally reproduced the official poster, but not always, and the back cover usually had poorer lithographs than those on the cover.
As for pelota, we have to wait for the advent of photography and contemporary times to find figurative expressions of a hobby so well documented in written sources. A set of watercolor drawings of cesta punta players in different positions was made by Florentino Andueza, a little less than a century ago.
XXth century painting and coffee scenes
Some paintings by Javier Ciga dedicated to themes of leisure, such as the Sokadantza (Paris, 1914), give us an idea of what dancing meant in the daily life of the towns, despite having been reviled in earlier times, both by civil and ecclesiastical legislation, being famous the edict of the bishop of Pamplona in 1750, for its objections and prohibitions. The aforementioned Javier Ciga left us two other themes related to entertainment, highlighting the canvases of the Drunks (1908-1910), Despachando chacolí ( 1915), Partida de mus ( 1940-1960).
Florentino Andueza (1899-1988), trained in Madrid, deaf and dumb and a friend of the Zubiaurre brothers, is responsible for several drawings and watercolors in which he depicts popular fiestas with running of the bulls and dances. Regarding those of cafes and gatherings, we will highlight a couple of them. In the first place a drawing with degree scroll of Café Navarro, with an interior with a wood stove, a clock and a calendar of a chocolate manufacturer, plus some tables with their chairs and some men wearing berets drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. In second place a collective caricature published in La Voz de Navarra, April 8, 1928, which has as main protagonist the poet Alberto Pelairea directing a rondalla in Fitero. The correspondent of the newspaper says about the drawing: "To the kindness of our dear Mr. Andueza we owe the pleasure of presenting to our readers the nice group in one of its rehearsals. The magical pencil of the illustrator knew how to fix on paper an interesting moment in which the teacher explains a lesson listened to by all attentively, religiously, while they search on the strings of their instruments the harmonic effect of the explained topic ".