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Ethics and Economies of Art in Renaissance Spain: Felipe de Guevara’s Comentario de la pintura y pintores antiguos*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Alejandra Giménez-Berger*
Affiliation:
Wittenberg University

Abstract

The Comentario de la pintura y pintores antiguos (Commentary on Painting and Antique Painters) by the humanist Felipe de Guevara stands as the first art treatise of its type produced in Renaissance Spain. Critical studies underscore the reliance on ancient texts in spite of significant divergences from the sources. Philological studies of near-contemporary texts and a close reading of the author’s extant writings provide an alternative framework for understanding these transformations. Through the appropriation of ancient texts, Guevara calls for the practical overhauling of the Spanish artistic system. The text addresses the art of painting as having both transcendental and intrinsic values, focusing on its formative capabilities and virtue ethics as the most important for the former, and its role in the larger Spanish economy for the latter.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 2014

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Footnotes

*

This article developed through a series of presentations at meetings of the Comité International d’Historie de l’Art, the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference, and the Renaissance Society of America. I am grateful to the many scholars who expressed interest in the subject and asked the questions that led me in this direction. Some of the ideas I present here stem from my dissertation; I owe special thanks to Tracy Cooper, Marcia Hall, Sheila ffolliott, and Therese Dolan for their mentorship and encouragement. I benefited greatly from Ken Irwin’s vast knowledge of library material, Tanya Maus’s and Michael Mattison’s comments on early versions of the manuscript, Corie Cappelucci’s enthusiastic research assistance, and the thoughtful suggestions of the blind reviewers. Adam Berger deserves a special mention for listening to my ideas, and Victor Jortack for his insight on translation practices. All translations are mine unless otherwise noted. Finally, I express my gratitude to Wittenberg University’s Faculty Development Board for supporting my research.

1

Guevara, 1788, 103. All subsequent quotations will be from this edition.

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