Publicador de contenidos

Back to 2020_01_24_FYL_opinion_artistas_e_inquisicion

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

Heritage and identity (25). Navarrese artists and the Inquisition

Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:11:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Not much news has come down to us about the relationship between the Inquisition and artists in Navarre. In general, as in the rest of Spain, it does not seem that the processes initiated by the saint official document against some artists were caused by issues related to the arts they practiced and their works, but rather by some personal behaviors, and even by envy and hatred among professionals.

Regarding images and paintings, more or less tolerated and forbidden, the documentary vacuum and therefore the knowledge we have is even scarcer. We will deal with this, in particular, on another occasion, focusing here only on the artists.

In the 16th century

That century provides us with some data referring to several silversmiths and another couple of sculptors who, for various circumstances, were related to the saint official document. In the case of the first, the goldsmith Juan de Ichaso, was a relative of the Inquisition, in the third quarter of the century, and was married to Fausta de Orbaiceta. Another silversmith had worse luck, because he was on the other side, on the side of the accused and defendants. His name was Roberto de León.

Ignacio Panizo and Mª Jesús Berzal have studied the trial against Roberto de León, a French master established in Pamplona since the mid-16th century, who was condemned to death by the Inquisition in 1565, following a raid in which several residents of the Navarrese capital were arrested on charges of Protestantism, including the silversmith Francisco de Lucenburque. Roberto de León bore the brunt of the punishment, as he was condemned for "being an inpenitent and bad convert and for having had and believing that everything that the clerics and friars do is an abusion and that there is no Pope after Saint Peter died and that the bulls and indulgences are worthless and that there is no purgatory and other things". In final, he was accused of heretical propositions associated with Protestantism, such as the denial of the authority of the papacy, contempt for the bulls and the non-existence of purgatory. All this was aggravated by being attributed to him as the ringleader of group and tenacity in error. The Inquisition seized all his goods, also those of some clients who, seeing their goods seized, claimed their jewels from the holy court, opening a couple of fiscal lawsuits initiated by Francisco de Atondo and Elena Cruzat to find out the origin of the pieces.

Regarding the two sculptors who had problems with the Inquisition, it should be noted that both were excellent masters: Juan de Beauves and Miguel de Espinal. The first, known as the friar, was the son of Peti Juan de Beauves, who worked on the choir stalls of Pamplona. Between 1533 and 1537, he apprenticed with Gabriel Joly in the Aragonese capital, becoming familiar with the Italianate models. He lived off the work provided by other masters who subcontracted the sculpture for different altarpieces, as they were required by the commissioners that the images were "by the hand of the friar". Pierres Picart, his father's companion in the Pamplona ashlars, associated him with his works in the altarpieces of Huarte-Araquil (1557-59), San Juan de Estella (1563), Santo Domingo de Pamplona (1570-74) and Irañeta. His hand is also present in the reliefs and bulks of those of Esquíroz and Lumbier. In 1570 he was arrested by the Inquisition and transferred to the jail of Logroño, at the same time that all his goods were seized. Soon after he was absolved and, although we do not know the reason for this, it must have been related to his uprooted and adventurous life that led him to live in various hermitages (San Jorge, outside the walls of Pamplona, San Salvador de Villanueva de Araquil and Santa Teodosia de San Vicente de Álava), at a time when it was a question of bringing order to the hermits of the kingdom, since many were not willing to follow an austere life. At the end of his life, he thought of retiring to the monastery of Leire, but he must have changed his mind because he ended his life in the aforementioned Shrine of Our Lady of Fair Love of San Jorge in Pamplona, where he is documented in 1591.

The other sculptor who, at some point in his life, had to deal with information from the saint official document was Miguel de Espinal II (1532-1586), married to Catalina de Beauves, niece of Friar Juan de Beauves, when he was already forty-three years old. Espinal was a person who did not easily dominate his strong, violent and disagreeable character. His most important works were the altarpieces of Urroz-Villa and Ochagavía. On two occasions he was banished from the city of Pamplona for some insulting and provocative verbal expressions. The first, in 1568 for having harassed graduate Erice, reporter of the Courts, at the door of the parish of San Cernin, in relation to a lawsuit against the sculptor Guillén Oberón. That cost Espinal four months of banishment, thirty-six pounds and the costs of the trial, although without finishing the sentence, he asked to return to Pamplona because of "the many officials he has" at his position, being granted the appropriate licence .

Years later, in 1584, when the teacher lived in Lanz with his wife, another incident occurred, in this case with content of insults and heresy, which could have ended in inquisitorial jurisdiction by the subject. However, it was litigated in the courts of Navarre and ended with a sentence of banishment for six months and a fine of 200 pounds, in the first sentence, which was followed by another with a reduction of the amount. In this case it was his wife, Catalina de Beauves, who went on to offer in the church, skipping the custom that the owners of the oldest houses in the locality were the first to do so. With the above-mentioned expression of "passing to offer" she refers to the custom of going with a lighted candle to kiss the stole to the priest and leave an alms in the offertory of the mass. Catalina's attitude ended in an argument, rebuking the neighbor of the place, Miguel de Arizu, with heavy and insulting words and even calling him a witch, and telling him that a toad fell from her breast in the house of a former mayor. Catalina's statement only acknowledged that she had told him that she was not "agota" to offer last. Other witnesses point out how Miguel de Espinal, also treated him, shouting, from the choir, of sorcerer and villain. 

A libertine sculptor from Aguilar de Codés

Juan Martínez del Notario, who should not be confused with a homonymous member of the clergy and contemporary of Aguilar de Codés, was born in the latter town around 1612, perhaps he made his first training in the arts of wood in his homeland, in Viana or Estella. His relationship with the Inquisition has been studied by Azcárate, Cordero de Ciria and lately by Rebeca Carretero. 

According to the defendant's own testimony, he worked as a sculptor from the age of sixteen, in the workshop of Juan Martínez Montañés in Seville, around 1628-1629, for a year and a half and then, in Granada, for three and a half years. Later, in Madrid, he collaborated with Manuel Pereira, which makes this case something truly extraordinary, since the normal way for apprentices from Navarre to perfect their skills was to go to Castile or Aragon. He was in Madrid and with Pereira at least between 1639 and 1644, the latter year in which he fled to his hometown after being denounced for blasphemy. The case of this Navarrese is, as we shall see, exceptional from the point of view of his teachers, as they were the cream of the art of the first half of the 17th century, as well as the cities in which he lived to learn and perfect his sculptor's official document .

It was precisely in that period in Madrid, when an event took place for which he was prosecuted. On March 16, 1642, at dusk, two sculptors and a painter were waiting for him and he arrived late and drunk, answering the questions that one of them asked him: "I vow to Christ that I pay no attention to anyone in the world, that I put everyone under my feet and that I am equal only to God". These expressions cost him a denunciation. When they went to arrest him in the workshop of Pereira - by the way, a relative of the saint official document- in April 1644 the ministers of the Inquisition found out that he had left three months ago to his homeland, where some of his brothers lived.

From Aguilar he went to Pamplona, Zaragoza and Tudela, where he was imprisoned, declaring that in the last seven months he had worked in Aguilar, the capital of Navarre and Tudela. It was not the first time he had been behind bars, as he had previously been in jail for bigamy in Navarre, although he managed to escape. From statements of the inquisitorial process it is known that he boasted of being a relative of the saint official document, even mocking the civil justice. One of the witnesses affirmed that in an evening with the accused "warming himself at the fireplace", that he had not been in the confessional for ten years and that the Inquisition had imprisoned him twice for bigamy and certain amorous affairs with a widow in Madrid. From the judicial proceedings it is deduced that the sculptor had a quarrelsome and arrogant character, to which was added the lack of morals and the consumption of alcohol, since he drank wine "more than necessary and that he usually does many times".

As in other cases, this process constitutes an extremely important testimony for the social history of art, as it reveals the social and professional relationships between different artists, as well as their customs and character. In addition, it leaves open the door to the awarding of some works of 1644 to his hand in the aforementioned Navarre localities.

Other sculptors related to the saint official document

In 1640, when writing the ordinances of the confraternity of San Lucas of the painters of Pamplona, it was foreseen for the overseer of the same a chapter, the issue twenty-four that reads as follows: "Ittem, that with licence of the gentlemen of the Regiment of this city, a veedor or more if it is convenient, so that the works of painting that enter in this Kingdom of France, they recognize them because it has been experienced to enter many paintings banned by the Holy Inquisition, as well of the Kingdom as of other foreign Kingdoms, that provoke dishonesty and other illicit things and that, of what this results, he gives account to the said gentlemen aldermen, so that the due remedy is put with the authority and attendance of one of their merchants".

We know of a few cases of artists of the sixteenth century who held the position as relatives of the saint official document. The aforementioned position came to be a lay servant of the Inquisition, ready at all times to fulfill the duties of the court. In exchange he was allowed to carry arms to protect the inquisitors and to enjoy certain privileges issue . H. Kamen, in his monograph, recalls that the fact of becoming a familiar was a high honor and although some of them acquired certain notoriety for punctual facts and for the legendary fame they came to have, as a fifth column of informers and spies, it seems that in the internship their contemporaries were more concerned about their excessive issue and the privileges behind which they were shielded, which placed them above the law. In the middle of the 17th century, familiarities were sold, following the customs of the sale of positions. Martín González recalls how some sculptors felt special esteem for this subject of religious positions, becoming relatives of the saint official document, as in the case of Pedro de Mena, or inspectors of that court in the case of Francisco Salzillo. 

Among the Navarrese sculptors who held this position position were Juan and José de Huici and Ituren, father and son who, in general, added to their names and surnames the condition of relatives of the saint official document. He was an outstanding master of the Sangüesa-Lumbier workshop and author, among others, of the main altarpieces of Oyarzun, Ituren and Oroz-Betelu, while his son (†1690) went to perfect his art in Oviedo with Luis Fernández de la Vega, a master who opened that region to the Castilian currents of the time. When he returned to Navarre, he was overseer of architectural and assembly works in the pontificate of Bishop Roche, settled in Ituren and married María Ijurco. Among his works is the main altarpiece of Puente la Reina.

The second was Juan Manrique de Lara y Balero (1648-1720), who settled in Corella in 1678, declaring that he had practiced his art in Rome, Naples, Florence and other places in Spain, stating that he had the power of the Inquisition to "remove and undo the images that seemed indecent, both of Christ our Lord and of Our Lady and other Saints". His work is not known to us in its full extent, possibly because his services were required by masters in charge of altarpieces. According to his own statement, his stay in Corella was interrupted in "some seasons when it is convenient for him to go out to work on his art". The Corella paso del Descendimiento is a work attributable to this master and was commissioned by the Cofradía y Amistad de los Dolores, founded in 1710, by seven brothers in report of the sorrows of the Virgin. Among his safe works we must mention the group of San Joaquín, Santa Ana and the Virgen Niña of his altarpiece in Cintruénigo, made in 1699, under a contract signed in March of that year, putting as a condition that they were made as the group of the same topic of the parish of the Rosary of Corella, for the price of 300 reales, giving the incarnate pieces and with glass eyes. It is a work based on prints of the time and of discreet quality.

We also know that Sebastián de Sola y Calahorra, son of the retablist of the same name established in Tudela and partner of his uncle Francisco Gurrea in various works at the end of the 17th century and beginning of the 18th century, also became a relative of the saint official document, in 1688.

A canon of the collegiate church of Tudela named Miguel Perez de Aybar and therefore homonym of the painter established in Granada of Tudela origin, was in charge, as commissioner of the saint official document, in 1650, of giving the necessary licenses for the blessing and use of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fair Love del Vedado de Eguaras, in the Bardenas, by delegation of the bishop of Pamplona.