THE STORY OF THE NATION
IN 1492 the Catholic Sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella, entered Granada in triumph. The last stronghold of Moorish dominion, undermined by the dissensions of Islam, fell before the united Christian kingdoms of Leon, Castile and Aragon. Spain be-came a united country and, in virtue of her protracted struggle of nearly eight hundred years against the infidel, stood forth as the acknowledged and self-conscious Champion of Catholicism. In the same year Columbus, under the patronage of the Catholic Sovereigns discovered the New World. This date, therefore, presents an epoch that completes the past and forms the starting point of a new era. Intimately associated with the subsequent national development and decline is the story of Spanish painting, but it owes most of its peculiar characteristics to the conditions that preceded the country’s complete union.
It is always interesting and usually illuminating to picture the historical background out of which the arts of a country have been gradually evolved. But in the case of Spanish painting it is essential. For the art of Spain was, bone and spirit, a part of the Spanish character, shaped and inspired as the latter had been by the racial, historical and geographical conditions out of which it was moulded. Without taking all this into account one cannot understand, much less appreciate sympathetically, the consistently individual character of this school of painting.
In the first place one must realise the meaning of the fact that Spain is a mountainous country; not only separated from the rest of Europe, but divided against itself by precipitous barriers. They run in a general way from West to East: abrupt colossal walls of volcanic origin, with a grand sweep of bulk, jagged in skyline and frequently piled with the chaotic debris of glacial moraines. These are the watersheds of rivers that refuse services to navigation; foaming to flood in the rainy season, shrinking in the drought to sluggish pools amid the rocky bed. They intersect tracts of country that vary from narrow valleys, where cultivation huddles in cherished pockets of soil, to broadly stretching vegas, tablelands and plains, from which by unremitting toil generous harvests may be obtained. Here the vistas are of magnificent extent, circling round one in far reaching sweeps of boldly undulating country, rimmed by nobly designed stretches of smoothly beveled foothills that form advance-posts of the ultimate barrier of the sierras.
It is a little country, only three times the size of England, contracted within itself by natural restrictions, yet planned by nature on a big scale; one that affects the imagination, prompting even more than mountainous countries usually have done to independence, individualism and hardihood. It is a country that seems made for fighting; where a handful of resolute men could maintain themselves tenaciously against enormous odds. In the past they did it in actual warfare; today in the -pacific fight which this hardy population perpetually keeps up against the extremes of climatic conditions. Though for the most part they still use the agricultural implements that Tubal Cain devised, they have inherited from the Roman and Moorish occupation a system of irrigation and of terracing that puts to shame the happy go lucky methods of farming in many countries which consider themselves superiorly enlightened. The necessary preoccupation with their immediate surroundings and the exclusion from outside influence, early made of this people a nation of individualists, realists and conservatives. So inbred did these qualities become that when the Spaniard mixed with the outer world, as he did particularly in his con-quest of the Spanish Main and in his wars with Europe, it was but to become more fixed in his conservatism at home. When he borrowed from abroad, as in his art, it was but to shape and color the acquired impression to his own individualistic and realistic attitude toward life.
The earliest inhabitants of the Peninsula are known as Iberians; with whom about 500 B.C., a branch of the Celtic family became amalgamated. These Celtiberians remained in undisputed possession of the country, until they were drawn into the vortex that was stirred by the rivalry of Rome and Carthage. The latter had planted colonies along the south coast, and gradually extended her authority into the interior, dealing as was her wont in a spirit of suspicion and brutality with the natives. The Romans, hot on the trail of their traditional foe, at first suffered decisive reverses. Then it was that Scipio the Younger offered himself to the Senate and People of Rome as general of the war. His father and uncle had been slain in battle in Spain; he desired to avenge their deaths and to crush the enemies of Rome. Though only twenty-four years of age he had the genius of a military leader and of a states-man. While putting heart into the shattered ranks of the Roman veterans and leading them victoriously against the Carthaginians, he adopted towards the Spaniards a policy of confidence and conciliation which won them over to a loyal acceptance of the Roman rule. A similar policy was practised by Suetonius in later years, when Spain had become the battle ground of the rival factions with which Rome was torn. It was continued by Julius Caesar when he fought out his fight with Pompey on Spanish soil, and later by Augustus when, having become ruler of the Roman world, he completed pacifically the conquest of Spain.
Henceforth Spain was the most favored, loyal and prosperous province of the Empire. At first the Roman veterans, retiring from military service, married Spanish women and settled down as farmers, introducing gradually the order’ and scientific method for which the Romans are so justly celebrated. The settled conditions, fertility of the soil, and the beauty of the country in time attracted the wealth and culture of the Capital. Spain became, like “The Province” in the South of France, a field for capitalistic enterprise as well as a resort for those who leaned toward a life of refined leisure. She throve in the arts and sciences and became enriched with some of the finest evidences of the Roman genius for engineering. Her wheatfields fed the proletariat of the Capital and her sons reinforced the ranks of statesmen and men of letters. She became, in the finest sense of the word, more Roman than Italy herself. This period of splendid prosperity lasted for four hundred years, until it was submerged, like the rest of Roman civilization, by the flood of Gothic invasion.
The branch of the German family which overran Spain was that of the Visigoths, who maintained an ascendency and a line of kings for two hundred years. But, although the enervation caused by provincial luxury had rendered the Celtiberian-Roman an easy victim to the vigorous onslaught of the northern race, he was sufficiently tenacious of the original spirit of the mountaineer and of the acquired love of order to avoid the chaos and prostration that overtook the rest of the Empire, and reasserted his instinct for amalgamation. The blend, which ensued and became the Spanish race as it is known to later history, is characteristically represented in the language that was gradually evolved. For this, though overlaid with Northern forms, remains at root Roman. In this hybrid race the Spanish element proved itself to be the most pronounced and enduring. Its conservatism, a phase of the independence and exclusiveness that we have already noted, was conspicuously revealed in the great Arian Controversy which threatened the integrity of the Western Church. The Visigoths alone of all the Germanic family, renounced the “heresy.” Reccared, their king, received in consequence the title of the first Catholic Sovereign of Spain. How resolutely subsequent sovereigns clung to this distinction and their subjects conformed to the political and religious obligations that it entailed is one of the most notable features of Spanish history. It seriously affected the national life, its attitude toward other nations and the development and character of Spanish art.
Meanwhile the mingling of blood could not save the Visigothic kingdom from the fate that attended all the Germanic governments which had been established on the ruins of the Empire. It proved no exception to the tendency to disintegrate and thus presented an easy prey to the onslaughts of united Islam.
In less than a hundred years after the death of Mohammed the Moslem faith had spread from Arabia through Syria and Asia Minor to Persia and India, while Westward it had overrun Egypt and penetrated along the northern shore of Africa to the Pillars of Hercules. Hence in 711 A.D. it crossed into Spain. While the leaders, under the generalship of Musa, viceroy of the Omayyad Caliphate of Damascus, were all Arabs, they had enlisted in their army the warlike tribes of Mauritania, the ancient kingdom now represented by Morocco and Algeria. Hence the name of Moors (Mauri) which distinguishes the invaders of Spain. Twenty years sufficed to make them masters of the Peninsula, the little northwestern country of Asturias alone retaining its independence. Twenty years later disintegration crept also into the ranks of the conquerors. Abd-er-Rahman established an independent caliphate in Cordova. His ambition was to raise it to a position in the Western world such as was held by Bagdad, Damascus and Delhi in the East; furthermore to make Cordova the Mecca of the faithful in the West. Thus was be-gun by this Caliph the Mesquita or chief Mosque, which under succeeding Caliphs was enlarged and beautified until it became a fitting monument of the ideals of Islam in its period of most splendid pride and noblest enlightenment. For nearly three hundred years Cordova was the center of an ordered government, which not only fostered the refinement of the arts and crafts in the cities and spread its network of highly organised agricultural labor throughout the country districts, but also a University of philosophy and science that made it the resort of scholars, not only Moslem but Christian. Cordova, in fact, played a conspicuously brilliant part in that phase of the Moslem ascendency which is apt to be overlooked; its share in perpetuating and advancing the Hellenic culture, which otherwise might have been lost in the Dark Ages succeeding the fall of the Roman Empire.
Meanwhile, the spirit of Christian Spain, though broken, was not crushed. Its stronghold was at first the little kingdom of Asturias. Alfonso I not only resisted conquest but wrested back from the Moor the provinces of Galicia and Cantabria. From the north-west fastnesses of the Peninsula commenced the steady pressure southward, which, while it met with many reverses, was never abandoned until the invader had been driven back to Africa. The story in brief is one of gradual consolidation of the Christian power, accompanied by a corresponding disintegration of the Moslem. Leon becomes united with the other provinces and Castile follows suit; while on the other hand the Caliphate of Cordova becomes broken up into several dynasties. Then, while a rival sect, the Almoravides, arrive from Africa and make war on their co-religionists, Alfonso IV of Castile assumes the title of Emperor and captures Toledo and Valencia. Later, the conquests of the Almoravides are wrested from them by other arrivals from Africa, the fanatical sect of the Almohades. Encouraged by this dissension, the Christian states for the first time send their representatives to a national assembly. The first Cortes meets at Burgos. Six years later the Christians suffer defeat, but recover themselves and inflict a heavy blow upon the Moors at the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. It is followed by repeated hammering, extending over nearly forty years, until the Moorish power is beaten back and by the year 1251 is confined entirely to the kingdom of Granada.
Then, for the space of two hundred and forty years, there was a comparative lull. Under the enlightened rule of the Nasride dynasty the province of Granada enjoyed a prosperity that invited friendly relations even with the Christians. The wealth derived from its mines, industries and agriculture exceeded that of the ancient Caliphate of Cordova. The period represented, in fact, the Golden Age of Moorish civilization in Spain, the flower and symbol of which remains to-day, though shorn of much of its magnificence, in the still exquisite palace of the Alhambra. So skilfully by treaty and otherwise did the rulers of Granada conciliate the Christians that their reign might have been continued indefinitely, but for two causes: internal dissensions and the fixed idea of Ferdinand and Isabella to fulfil their obligations as Catholic Kings. They lived for the purpose of expelling the infidel, and the rivalry between the two great Moorish tribes, the Zegri and the Abencerrages, gave them the opportunity. It had resulted in the throne being occupied by the youthful weakling, Boabdil. He fell into the hands of Ferdinand and Isabella at the battle of Lucena, and consented to re-main neutral while they attacked the coast cities of Granada. Finally they appeared before Granada it-self and Boabdil, after a frantic but futile effort to oppose them, was forced into a treaty of peace, by which the city was surrendered. Ten years later the last of the Moors had been expelled from Spain or compelled to be baptised.
Before proceeding with the story it is worth while to consider the effect which this long struggle of seven hundred and eighty years had had upon the Spanish character. In the first place it had fused the nation into one; not by some sudden stroke of patriotic ardor but by a slow and painful process, in which the patriotism had been tested in the forge of adversity, stiffened and tempered on the anvil of endurance and proven by long experiences. Its qualities were trenchant, uncompromising, decisively complete. The Spaniard had become a hero to himself ; sufficient in and for himself ; realising his superiority and wrapping it about with a mantle of haughty exclusiveness. He had learned to rely upon himself and had justified his confidence by victory, hardly won and dearly bought; he was a Spaniardverbum sat. But he had been more than patriot; he had been a Paladin of the Faith; a Knight of the Cross; a Soldier of Christendom, Champion of the Holy Catholic Church. The consciousness of this had sustained him in adversity; quickened his strength in hours of vigil, inflamed him to the attack and crowned both victories and defeats with divine glory. An intense passion of spiritual ecstasy burned within him. He was at once a man of action, hard and practical, and a pietistic dreamer, a fanatic and visionary. How this mingling of qualities affected Spanish art, causing it, on the one hand, to be distinctively national and, on the other, a product of naturalistic method and highly pietistic motive will appear in the course of our story.
It was, perhaps, Spain’s misfortune that her victories over the Moors were not succeeded by a period of settled conditions. For already she had entered upon a career of brilliant enterprise in the arts of peace.
Under the patronage of Queen Isabella and of prelates, such as Cardinal Ximenes de Cisneros, Archbishop of Toledo, whose power rivaled that of the Crown, great architectural works were inaugurated and sculptors and painters were drawn from Flanders and Germany to decorate them. Learning was still further encouraged by the founding of a new University at Alcala de Henares to supplement the famous foundation of Salamanca, and men of letters and artists were welcomed and honored at Court. Among them stand out the names of Pulgar, the first historian of Castile; Cota, the first Spanish dramatist and Rincon, the earliest of the native painters. The sixteenth century, in fact, opened with a brilliant dawn, full of promise for the new nation, if only it might have had leisure to consolidate and develop naturally its resources. But it was drawn almost immediately into the whirl of foreign conquests.
On the one hand it became involved in the affairs of the kingdom of Naples, which was conquered by the Spanish general, Gonsalvo de Cordova; on the other hand, by the bull of the Spanish Borgia Pope, Alexander VI, it was put in possession of all the conquests it might make in the New World. In both cases the immediate results may possibly be considered a boon, but they were followed by consequences disastrous to the nation and the Spanish character. The occupation of Naples brought the country in touch with Italian civilization, then approaching its zenith, but flung it into the vortex of European intrigue and warfare. Wealth began to flow in from the Americas, but at the expense of national demoralization. The conquest of inferior nations, inferiorly equipped with arms of offense and defense, may easily result in cruelty and the general sapping of the truly soldier spirit, while the lust of gold which soon began to inspire it converted these champions of the Faith into brutal buccaneers and plunderers. Further, it sapped the energies of the nation at home. For, why laboriously develop the re-sources of the country, when a stream of wealth was flowing into it from abroad? National progress, therefore, was checked and in time stifled ; while the incoming wealth soon began to go out in prodigal expenditure over useless European wars. It became a mad gamble in which the spiritual qualities of the Spanish character were overwhelmed with the intoxication of power, while its exclusiveness and pride blinded the nation to the inevitable catastrophe.
A fact antecedent to all these causes of national deterioration was that even before the conquest of Granada the Catholic Sovereigns had established the Inquisition. With this devilish engine, operated in the name of God and the Catholic Faith, the Spaniard attempted to check the progress of Europe and effectively crushed his own. In time he expelled from the Peninsula the Jews, who in Spain had been among the foremost in learning and industrial energy ; the Moors and finally the Morescoes, the progeny of the Christianised Moors and Spaniards, who had perpetuated the crafts in which the Moors had been so skilled. Enterprise was thus banished and Spain deliberately committed herself to the part of a reactionary against progress. In time England and Holland wrested from her her resources in the New World. She shrank within the limits of her own Peninsula, which had been already drained of initiation and productivity. In time, all that became left to her of her proud possessions was the dogmatic form of the Catholic religion. It had ceased to be spiritual inspiration and passed into a phase of sentimentalism, whence it dwindled to a mere formalism, existing amid irreligion and moral degradation.
In the last sentence we have anticipated the national prostration of the eighteenth century, following upon the exhaustion of the previous one. It remains to summarise the events which intervened. Ferdinand and Isabella were succeeded by their grandson, Charles I of Spain, better known as the Emperor Charles V of Germany. He was the son of their daughter, Joanna, who had been married to the Archduke Philip of Austria, son of Emperor Maximilian of Germany. Thus Charles brought Spain under the rule of the great Hapsburg family, which even to the present time has provided monarchs for Germany and Austria. Joanna died insane, and the taint of her disease clung to her descendants. Born in Ghent in 1500 and educated in Flanders, Charles I at the death of his father in 1506 inherited the Netherlands. On the death of Ferdinand in 1516 he became King of Spain, and in 1519 was elected Emperor of Germany, the defeated competitor being Francis I of France. The rivalry between these two led to a protracted war, fought out chiefly in Italy, on the possession of which each had fastened his ambition. Francis was made captive at the battle of Pavia in 1527 and forced into a treaty of peace; but the war was renewed two years later and Charles’ troops under the renegade Frenchman, Constable of Bourbon, entered Rome and sacked it, taking the Pope prisoner. This, however, was but an incident in the political game, for Charles, as became a grandson of the Catholic Kings, was a staunch Defender of the Faith, and endeavored to impose it upon his Protestant subjects in Germany and the Netherlands. For the good of their souls he subjected them to the ravages of war and the horrors of the Inquisition, and for the filling of his military chest mulcted them by fines as well as taxation. Then at the age of fifty-five, exhausted in mind and body by his heroic exertions on behalf of Catholicism and his own ambitions, and by his various forms of self-indulgence, he handed over the Imperial Crown to his brother, Ferdinand, and the Kingdom of Spain and his “dear Netherlands” to his son, Philip. He himself, under the plea of caring for his soul’s welfare, retired to the monastery of San Juste, whence he continued to meddle with affairs of State, meanwhile surfeiting his appetites and making a collection of clocks and watches. His bedroom commanded a view of the High Altar of the Church and was decorated with Titian’s Gloria, in which picture the artist has represented the ex-Emperor in a white robe, welcomed by the Virgin at the throne of God; while his hopeful son, Philip, is among the mortals who gaze up devoutly at the imperial apotheosis.
Alas! for Philip; he had the doggedness but not the genius of his father. Meanwhile the times were changing, and he did not know it. Despotism, whether religious or political, no longer was to go unquestioned. What the Netherlands had endured from Charles they refused to submit to from his son. The more so that, while his father had chastised them with whips, he, in the person of the unspeakable Alva, chastised them with scorpions. The United Provinces revolted and the rest of Philip’s life was spent in a vain effort to crush the Dutch patriots and the English who had more or less espoused their cause. Meanwhile the fleets of both countries were sweeping the Spaniards from the high seas. When Philip died in 1598, he left to his son, Philip III, the legacy of a fruitless foreign war, a ruined commerce, and an impoverished treasury. As an enduring monument of himself he left the Escorial.
The decline of Spanish prestige and prosperity was accelerated by Philip III, an easy-going person, who even refused to take any active part in the selection of his own wife. He languidly continued the embellishment of the palaces which his father had built, and posed mildly as a patron of the arts. Under his feeble rule the power of the crown declined, while that of the nobility correspondingly increased; and to them probably more than to the king himself must be attributed the crime and economical blunder of the final expulsion of the Morescoes. An adventitious lustre is added to the reign of this king and his father by the genius of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, the dramatist, and the great artist, El Greco.
Succeeding to the crown at the age of seventeen, Philip IV resigned the government to his favorite and prime-minister, the Count-Duke Olivares, whose idea of statesmanship was to keep his royal master as far as possible in ignorance of the impending ruin of the kingdom. To this end he renewed the war in Holland, which had been interrupted by a twelve years’ truce, and, with no decisive result except the squandering of revenue, prolonged it until the final recognition of Dutch Independence in 1648. Over eighty years had been expended in endeavoring to set back the clock to the principles and methods of the Middle Ages and in the process the proud empire, inaugurated by the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella, had been drained of its vitality. The colonial possessions began to fall one by one into the hands of foreigners and Spain her-self was enfeebled and demoralised. Meanwhile Philip played the part of a Maecenas in what proved to be the Golden Age of Spanish literature and art.
Among the names which gave a lustre to the Court were the veteran Lope de Vega; Calderon, author among other dramas of the “Comedies of Cape and Sword”; Velez de Guevara, playwright and novelist, whose “El Diablo Cojuelo” was the original of Le Sage’s “Le Diable Boiteux” ; Luis de Gongora, the poet; Quevedo, the satirist; Bartolome Argensola, historian, and Antonio de Solis, poet, dramatist and author of “The History of the Conquest of Mexico.” Philip himself posed, with considerable warrant, as a poet and musician, and even took part as an actor in the musical and dramatic entertainments which enlivened the ennui of the Court in the palace of Buen Retiro. He was also, as an amateur, skilful in drawing and painting. This doubtless helped him to appreciate the merits of Velasquez, who to the world outside of Spain represents the subject of most significance in his life. Philip’s companionship with the artist, five years his elder, which except for the brief intervals in which one or the other of them was traveling, lasted for thirty-seven years, indeed until Velasquez’ death, is the one thing on which the student of history and of art cares to dwell. It has secured for Philip IV a recognition which his political importance would have denied him.
The increasing impotence of the Hapsburg family of Spanish kings reached its climax in Philip’s son, Charles II. One has but to glance at the latter’s portrait, painted by Juan Carreno, to realise the physical and mental degeneracy that the family type has under-gone. The type, as one sees it in Titian’s equestrian portrait of his great-great-grandfather, Charles I of Spain and V of Germany, is already abnormal. The grey eyes, for all their sternness and penetrating character, have a pathetic cast of melancholy; the under jaw protrudes like that of an ape. But the chin is massive, as indicative of force as of ferocity. In Philip II, as he appears in Titian’s portrait in the Prado, the face has lengthened; the eyes have lost their piercing gaze, and while no less melancholy, have an expression of de-liberate cruelty. The coarseness of the lower part of the face is displayed in the exaggerated sensuality of the out-turned lower lip, beneath which is a tapering chin, that has a suggestion of blended weakness and petty doggedness. In the equestrian portrait of Philip III, which is supposed to have been painted by Bartolome Gonzales and effectively retouched by Velasquez, the monarch’s head is carried a little back, a gesture which extenuates with probable intention the protrusion of the lower part. But the chin is feebly pointed, the under lip pendulous, while the eye suggests an empty vacuity, that is echoed in the mild fierceness of the upcurling moustache. It is a face vain, stupid and not a little commonplace. The last quality, at least, is absent, from the portraits of Philip IV. The face, especially when young, reflects the King’s intrinsic refinement; but its length has become exaggerated, the protruding under-lip and jaw are puffed and fleshy, weakly sensual, while the eyes are apathetic. The expression of the whole is of a nature nearly worn out, that can only be stirred to occasional alertness by the stimulant of trivial excitements. Finally, in Carreno’s portrait of Charles II, (p. 132) appears a total extinction of active faculties, soft sensuousness rather than sensuality, a settled look of apathy and the profound depression of a religious monomaniac.
Charles was scarcely four years old when the death of his father in 1665 made him king of a bankrupt country. It was the policy of the Queen Mother, whose regency was marked by political incompetence and personal amours, to keep her son as childish as possible. And, when he reached his majority at the age of fifteen and supplanted his mother’s influence by that of Don Juan of Austria, the latter also schemed to keep his master in a condition of mental darkness and dependence. Thus Charles was the victim alike of racial degeneracy and of thwarted development. Complete incapacity to govern himself or others was the natural result. He shunned the affairs of state, mildly supported the arts as far as the beggared state of the treasury would permit, and sank into a religious mania that found satisfaction in attending auto-da-fes and prostrating himself in acts of personal penance. Dying childless in 1700, he brought the Hapsburg line to an inglorious conclusion; and the succession passed to a branch of the Bourbon family.
The Crown was offered by the Spanish people to Philip, grandson of Louis XIV. He was the nephew of the late king, being the son of Philip IV’s daughter, Maria Theresa, and Louis XIV. When, however, this marriage was made Louis had expressly renounced all claims to the Spanish throne, both on his own behalf and that of his heirs ; and the renunciation had been confirmed by the Cortes. Meanwhile, another sister of Charles II had been married to Leopold, Emperor of Germany. She also had renounced her claim to the Spanish Crown, but the understanding had not been ratified by the Cortes. This afforded a pretext for the Elector of Bavaria, who had married her daughter, to claim the succession in opposition to Philip. A third claimant had been the Emperor Leopold himself, who however, waived his rights in favor of his second son, the Archduke Charles. The dispute had been in progress during the late king’s life, and Louis XIV had made a treaty with England and Holland, recognising the claims of the Elector of Bavaria. When, however, the crown was offered to Philip and accepted on his behalf by Louis XIV, England and Holland made a coalition with Austria and Germany to compel the recognition of the Archduke Charles. Hence the thirteen years’ war of the Spanish succession, in which Marlborough gained a series of victories over the French and Bavarians, the Archduke ravaged the Peninsula,, and the English and Dutch fleets preyed on Spanish commerce and captured Gibraltar. Finally, by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1714 the succession of Philip V was ratified.
He had been brought up by Louis XIV to be undesirous and incapable of taking part in political affairs. While the country continued to be involved in disastrous foreign wars this roi faineant amused himself with building a summer palace and laying out gardens, both in the French style. He also imported the French portrait-painter, Van Loo. It must be added, however, that the stock of Spanish painters had been exhausted. Native art, indeed, for the time, was all but dead. It so remained through the thirteen years’ reign of his son, Ferdinand VI, though he tried to galvanize it into official life by inaugurating the Academy of San Fernando. This king was succeeded by his brother Charles III, who had already distinguished himself by his wise rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. His portrait by Goya, in the costume of a sportsman, shows him to be a man of awkward build and of homely, though kind and shrewd, face. He proved himself a generous patron of second-rate artists, inviting the German painter, Raphael Mengs and the Venetian, Tiepolo, to his Court; built the present gallery of the Prado and issued an order for-bidding the exportation of paintings by the great masters of Spain. He appears to have had some ink-ling of the genius of Goya, who, however, did not come into prominence until the succession of Charles IV.
Charles IV was an amiable imbecile and his Queen, Maria Luisa, the shameless subject of notorious scan-dal. One of her favorites, Manuel Godoy, advanced from the rank and file of a regiment of the Guards to the title of Duke of Alcudia, was entrusted with the duties of prime minister. After embroiling the country in successive wars with France and England, he finally attached himself to the cause of Napoleon and favored the latter’s design to place his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne. The French entered Spain in 1808 and compelled Charles to abdicate. But in the same year the Spaniards rose against the invaders, and the English came to their assistance. Then followed the Peninsular War, during which Wellington gradually expelled the French troops, but not until they had pillaged the cathedrals and churches and carried off a large number of the finest works of art. For Marshal Soult, with the predatory instincts of an unscrupulous dealer, sent his emissaries ahead of the army. Armed with the “Dictionary of Painters and Paintings” by Cean Bermudez, they identified and attached the most famous canvases, which the Marshal compelled their owners to part with at his own terms. On the conclusion of the war many of these were returned to Spain under the terms of the treaty of peace, but a number of masterpieces had already passed through Soult’s rapacious hands into the public and private galleries of Europe.
This treaty of peace, which restored the Throne to Charles’ son, Ferdinand VIII is the end of the history of Spain so far as it concerns the growth and development and decline of her national art. She has had painters of repute since 1814 ; but not in sufficient numbers to constitute a school or even a noticeable artistic movement. Under weak and constantly changing governments, controlled by the Church and existing mainly for taxation, her arts, like her commerce and industries dwindled to an almost negligible condition, from ‘which only recently there are indications of recovery.