April 23, 2008
Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series
ENGRAVING IN THE CENTURY OF ENLIGHTENMENT
Engraving - technique and art - at the service of Enlightenment Spain
Mr. Juan Carrete Parrondo.
In the 18th century a double action took place: the technique and art of engraving were placed at the service of the ideals of Enlightened Spain, but at the same time institutions were created to teach and promote engraving. There is no doubt that in Enlightenment circles it was felt as a real need for engraving to develop. Antonio Ponz, Jovellanos, Vargas Ponce, Pablo de Olavide, Ceán Bermúdez, and so many others left written testimonies of this need.
The institution core topic for the development of "illustrated engraving" was the Royal Academy of San Fernando, which taught it systematically and imposed what was called "good taste", through its directors Juan Bernabé Palomino and Manuel Salvador Carmona, both appointed engravers of the King's Chamber.
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Madrid, Joaquín Ibarra, 1780.
The Royal Chalcography, created in 1789, was one of the institutions that most contributed to the consolidation and splendor of the art of engraving. The immediate purpose was the desire to engrave "The Collection of the original Quadros that exist in Spain worthy of being published, and the collection of Portraits of the distinguished Spaniards in the Letters, in the Arms and in Politics, whose report still by this way it would be convenient that it was extended to the whole World". The most important works to publicize and propagate the efficiency of the monarchy and the scientific and technical successes achieved came out of his printing presses: the Portraits of Illustrious Spaniards with an epitome of their lives, which was published in notebooks from 1791 to 1814, the Views of the Spanish sea ports, the Brigade of the Flying Artillery, the Royal Riding School of Charles IV and the Views of the Royal Monastery of El Escorial. The Plan of the Royal Site of Aranjuez, the views of the same Royal Site, the Map of South America, the Fishes of the Cantabrian Sea, the Book of Vitruvius by José Ortiz, the Art of Writing by José Anduaga, The Conjuration of Catiline and the War of Yugurta by Sallust. In addition to those published by the Royal Printing House after 1789: The Commentaries of Julius Caesar, The Music of Tomas de Iriarte, among many others.
Tomás de Iriarte, La música poema, Madrid, Imprenta Real, 1779.
Thus, treatises on botany, architecture, military art, along with reproductions of the most famous paintings, maps, plans, atlases, views of cities, illustrated history books and literary works were disseminated and made known. Other themes, no less important, were also disseminated by means of this technique: fashions, bullfighting, current news, etc., and among them, the devotional prints that stimulated the pious emotions of the simple people in whom they inspired the same respect and piety as the altarpieces and paintings of the temples, at the same time that for an affordable price they could have them in their own homes to satisfy their particular devotions.
Juan Cruz Cano y Olmedilla, Collection of Spanish Costumes, 1777.