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

Works and days in Navarrese art (9). In the church and in the place

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 16:39:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Daily life in the past has had in the street, the place and the church some fundamental references. Tracing in the artistic manifestations of Navarre of different periods we can locate some representations that help us to recreate part of the life of our ancestors in the indicated areas.


Church celebrations

The events linked to religious life had their particular echo in the figurative arts. From their representations, we can extract information about how those events took place. We have different scenes such as the celebration of masses and processions in medieval and modern art. The painting and photography of the late 19th century also put their goal in processions and pilgrimages, in an attempt to capture customs and traditions.

Mass celebrations are found in different passages of the lives of the saints and in some medieval miniatures. Of the latter, we will highlight those that illustrate the Sacramentary of Fitero, a work from the beginning of the 13th century, and the Constitutions of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Sacrament of Tudela from the middle of the 14th century. As for paintings and reliefs, the most remarkable are the masses before the arma Christi and those of San Gregorio and San Martín that appear in numerous altarpieces, as well as an example of that of San Gil in the altarpiece of the Villaespesa of Tudela (Bonanat Zahortiga, 1412). This last example is the most unusual because of its iconography, since its content was censured after the Council of Trent, as it seemed to contradict the obligation to confess sins personally. As is known, in that scene it was an angel who transmitted to the saint the faults of the king who attended the celebration, by means of a written letter.

We must also mention the large panel of the family of Nicolás Eguía in San Miguel de Estella, in which no less than 26 people appear before the mass -either that of San Gregorio or the one celebrated before the arma Christi-, an authentic collective portrait made around 1520, where the couple formed by Nicolás de Eguía and his wife, Catalina de Jaso, aunt of San Francisco Javier, appear accompanied by their 13 sons and 13 daughters, 26 in total, of the 30 that they procreated. The historian of the city Don Baltasar de Lezáun y Andía judged in his Historical Memoirs of Estella (1710), the painting as "something singular and rare".

Other examples of masses with numerous faithful are the one officiated by San Veremundo, represented in his chest (1583) and in the main altarpiece of Villatuerta (1641, by Pedro Izquierdo and Juan Imberto III) and that of San Bernardo, who celebrates the holy sacrifice while he sees the souls leaving purgatory. Thus he is represented in a delicate relief of his altarpiece in Leire, the work of Juan de Berroeta (b. 1633), which copies an engraving of the Vita et miracula divi Bernardi Bernardi Clarevalensis abatis, published in Rome in 1587 at the request of the Cistercian Congregation of the Crown of Castile.

The great painting of the Mass of San Juan de Mata or of the Foundation of the Trinitarian order of Carreño (1666), which presided over the church of the Trinitarians in Pamplona and which today is in the Louvre in Paris, presented all the baroque rhetoric of the Eucharistic celebration at the moment of the consecration, in all its aspects: color, gestures, snapshot, breaking of glory ... etc...

La Salida de misa is a beautiful painting on the exterior of the church, painted by Javier Ciga and dated 1914, in which, as I. Urricelqui observes, the painter showed great interest in the physical and traditional costumes. Urricelqui, the painter sample a great interest in the physical subject and traditional clothing.

With respect to other sacraments, there are hardly any outstanding examples. When dealing with daily life in the home, we already mentioned the importance of Ciga's painting Viático en el Baztán (1917), A . Miguel Pérez Torres obtained, in 1922, a third medal in the National Fine Arts exhibition , with The Confession of the Capuchin, a work of delicate and intimate character.


Processions and parades in the street

The representations of processions are certainly scarce, especially if we think of the abundant and meticulous descriptions of them. With the advent of photography everything would change, since the lenses were fixed on them with some frequency. In a running capital of the lower cloister of the monastery of Fitero, made in 1545, the solemn entrance of the abbot is narrated in the town of his jurisdiction, in what comes to be a demonstration of the power of the abbot, sculpted in stone, as if it was wanted to leave testimony in images of some noisy lawsuits that were litigated in the committee Real around the jurisdiction of the abbey. In the relief we find a parade with acolytes, cross, mace, mace-bearers, monks, singers, psalmists and the abbot with his crosier, followed by the mayor, the regiment and the people. It is, undoubtedly, a recreation of the abbot's inauguration in those centuries of the Ancien Régime, a ceremony full of symbolism and perfectly protocolized, from the arrival of the prelate to the town in the humilladero, to his seclusion in the abbey palace.

For the procession of the Descent of the Angel of Tudela we have a simple and naive drawing by Juan Antonio Fernández dated 1787, which presents the passage of the procession in the place Vieja, in front of the chapel of Santa Ana and the cathedral tower, on the way to the town hall, from whose balconies the angel has descended by a rope to remove the veil from the Virgin. The procession opens with the processional cross carried by a deacon, the music chapel with singers and instrumentalists, the chapter with choral habits, a child dressed as an angel with the flag of the brotherhood of the Holy Sacrament, the processional step of the Virgin carried by clergymen with robes and mucetas and, finally, a turiferario, the canopy with the Blessed Sacrament and the regiment with golilla costume.

Santeros and sacristans also formed part of the urban and rural landscapes, walking the streets with their chapels with which they solicited alms for other sanctuaries. Some of them are preserved in San Gregorio Ostiense, Luquin, Codés and Labiano. We also know some paintings and photographs with those singular characters. An outstanding canvas is that of the Cristero, a work by Miguel Pérez Torres (c. 1918-1919) which is kept in the town hall of the capital of La Ribera. This painter from Tudela, throughout the twenties, moved away from the influence of the great Spanish artists of the XVII century and began to express himself with greater spontaneity, in genre and popular scenes.

Another picture of this subject was the one painted by Cristóbal González Quesada, restorer of the Prado Museum of the sacristan of Fitero, Cristóbal Aznar Latorre "El Poba", with the cajeta de las ánimas, in 1947. The same character had been the subject of a caricature by Fausto Palacios in 1922.


Funeral rites

Funeral processional parades are narrated in medieval sepulchres such as the one in the monastery of Fitero (c. 1300) or Carlos III in the cathedral of Pamplona (1413-1419), but the interest lies more in the individual figures of the monks or the plorantes than in the description of the event as a whole. The accompaniment of cantors, acolytes, turiferarios and ceroferarios is well documented in some.

In a truly exceptional case, the tomb of Chancellor Villaespesa in the cathedral of Tudela, the family of the deceased is represented in spectacular polychrome reliefs. There we can recreate the clothing of the daughters and grandchildren of the chancellor, as well as the funeral liturgy of the early fifteenth century, which is captured with all subject details.

From protocol and funeral rites in the Modern Age, we have some images that tell us how most of them revolved around the huge catafalques that were erected especially in the cathedral of Pamplona and the well-known creeping mourning. We know from descriptions, engravings and reconstructions some of them. The one erected for the royal funeral of Philip II (1598) was the work of the assembler Domingo de Bidarte and the painter Juan de Landa, having intervened in the choice of model the bishop Antonio Zapata, generous patron of several cathedral projects. The one of greater apparatus raised in Pamplona, for adding to the architecture a good set of allegorical figures, was undoubtedly that of Mariana of Austria (1696), designed by the engineer Hércules Torelli and known for having been made by the excellent engravers of the Madrid court Gregorio Forman and Juan Francisco Leonardo.

During the 19th century those devices continued to be erected, obviously with an academicist aesthetic. We know through a drawing of one erected in Corella in honor of Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1829 and several erected in the cathedral on different occasions through photographs. One of those ephemeral Structures that had different floors, depending on the category of the funeral, was set up in the parish of San Cernin in Pamplona for the funeral of its parish priest Don Juan Albizu, in 1955.

In relation to the funeral rites, the painting by Ciga that represents three women and a girl, in 1915, when they come to pray for the deceased, belonging to a private collection in Pamplona, is a must see quotation .


In the marketplace and place

The Pamplona City Hall keeps the canvas of Market in Elizondo, a painting A by Javier Ciga, dated 1914, which was titled "Paysans Basques" and triumphed at the Paris Spring Salon, considered the most important international artistic event par excellence. As Javier Zubiaur observes, this and other works by Ciga are testimony to the ethnographic interest of the painter who does not invent these scenes, but reconstructs them from something lived, endowing them with a profound ethnic value and combining "with justice, a refined technique, extreme realism and psychological sensitivity to the racial subject ".

By the same artist are the canvases of the Dulcera, from the twenties and A in capture and lights, as well as the Jóvenes con manzanas ( 1915), which represent popular types of everyday environments at that time, showing himself as a faithful interpreter of an everyday reality, one with a great capture and sensitivity, as pointed out by those who have studied the painter, C. Alegria Goñi and P. Fernandez Oyaregui.

La Vendedora de verduras or La Moza de Elizondo by Miguel Pérez Torres are the result of the artist's interest in popular types, after having been more interested in the great masters of the Prado Museum for some years. The first of these compositions dates from the 1920s. As I. Urricelqui observes, the female figure that gives degree scroll to the canvas ends up being an accessory image, as it is absorbed by the exhibition of products from the vegetable garden of Tudela, arranged in the manner of the great still lifes of Flemish 17th century painting.

Other artists were also called upon to capture scenes of the immediate and daily reality of their streets and squares. One example is the deaf-mute Florentino Andueza Alfaro (Tafalla, 1899 - Madrid, 1988), who studied at the San Fernando School of Fine Arts in the 1923-1924 academic year, on a grant from the Diputación de Navarra, and remained enrolled until 1926. Among his works with Navarrese content, there are several drawings and watercolors related to different street environments of Fitero, where his grandparents lived. Trades, fronton, alleys, old men and women in the sun, gossips, popular types and everything that was part of the daily and immediate reality were the subject of his quick and energetic sketches and drawings.

The arrival of photography has left us testimonies of the celebration of markets, especially the multi-secular market of Estella, captured for the postcard of Hauser and Menet (1903) with the same layout and awnings of sixty years ago. Other anonymous photographers have also captured its celebration, among the author's snapshots Nicolás Ardanaz's (1960), in the arcades of the place, where an old woman and other women selling poultry appear. The municipal photo library of Pamplona also has excellent photographs of such endearing characters in the streets and squares as the barquilleros of Ramona Saiz's family, who changed the coat of arms of the barquillera over the course of the 20th century, but always with a registration that celebrated the love and pleasure of their parishioners.