The piece of the month of February 2006


Ignacio Miguéliz Valcarlos
Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art

presentationIn the contracting of works of silversmithing of certain importance, it used to be usual to include a drawing with the outline or design of the piece to be made, together with the conditions of execution. This design was provided either by the client of the work or by the artist who was going to make it, although it could also be made by other artists, as is the case of this design for the execution of an altar cross, a candlestick and a lamp made around 1800 by the architect José de Armendáriz, drawn in black ink and gouache, with graphite retouches, with a fine and delicate line, at the same time sure, with defined contours...

design for silver pieces, ca. 1800, by José de Armendáriz Pamplona. Private collection

design for pieces of silver, ca. 1800, by José de Armendáriz
Pamplona. Private collection


We find ourselves before three pieces of elegant and careful design, with beautiful proportions and architectural profile , which is not interrupted by a sober decoration that follows classicist postulates, as it corresponds to the moment in which we are and to the training of Armendariz, of academic taste. The cross and the candlestick, of similar structure, since both pieces were placed together, matching, on the altar, still show baroque traces in the structure of the triangular bases, supported on three legs in the shape of a ball with a claw topped by a thistle leaf, which are continued in the avolute profiles of the base, that frame in the fronts mixtilinear skirts, with a central rosette framed by ces, while from the upper part hangs a floral garland, followed by a rounded truncated conical gland with bulbous body with vegetal decoration in the lower part and a pearl border in the upper part. On this pedestal sit the cross and the candlestick, the first has straight and flat arms, with the profile crossed by a vegetal border, and ends finished with cubic elements with floral rosettes on the fronts, while the square is framed by a molding of vegetal elements equal to that of the lower ring of the gland, surrounded by a glory of beveled rays. The candlestick has a body in the form of a classic fluted column, with base and capital, on which sits a hemispherical body, decorated with acanthus leaves, on which sits the candle holder, formed by a frieze of waves, and the straight cylindrical burner between rings.

The lamp has a circular plate with bulbous profile made up of four zones, the first one is truncated cone with smooth warped walls, from which come out four spindles that hold the cylindrical lamp holder for the oil, followed by another zone formed by a straight frieze with a fretwork that frames four square mirrors with floral rosettes inserted, equal to those of the cross, It continues in a third convex with decoration formed by a border of ovals and finally a flared body, divided in two by a straight molding, with decoration of acanthus leaves in the inferior part and of gallons in the superior part, finished by a top with a bulbous ring with decoration of bands, framed by two flared bodies, of warped walls the inferior one, from which hangs a tassel. The cupulin or manipule is also circular, flared with a stylized profile , with decoration of banded grooves, topped by a perinola with a ring for hanging. The supporting chains, in issue of four, are formed by alternating links of floral rosettes and geometric elements.

Together with the elevation of the three pieces, the plan of the same is also presented, in the case of the cross and candlestick they are of the same format, with four concentric circles that frame in the center a rectangular element, in the case of the cross, and circular in the candlestick, and that when the pedestal appears acquire triangular volume through the use of convex elements to mark the lines of the fronts and prismatic, for the scrolls that mark the profiles. While in the case of the lamp it is formed by three concentric circles that insert a Greek cross of circular square that mark the chains of the same one and the bell from which it hangs.

Nor is it common to find preserved designs of silverware pieces. In Navarre, only the design for the execution of a monstrance for the church of Ongoz, drawn in 1595 by Jerónimo de Navascués, is known, as well as two designs of jewelry commissioned to the silversmith Juan José de la Cruz by the Guipuzcoan nobleman Manuel Francisco de Alcibar Jáuregui in 1745. The Examination Book of the silversmiths of Pamplona, one of the few examples preserved in the peninsula, is of an exceptional nature and contains the drawings that these craftsmen had to execute in order to gain access to the master's Degree .

It is also the only known design of silverware pieces by the Navarrese architect José de Armendáriz († 1804), trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid, who once settled in Pamplona was appointed architect of the bishopric, due to which his work will focus on religious architecture, Several projects by this master for the renovation of different churches in Navarre are preserved, such as the Chapel of San Fermín in Pamplona or the churches of Irañeta, Arróniz, Ibero and Cirauqui, of which only the church of Ibero was actually built.