Spain: 15th – 16th century

Expeditions to the Americas, and the often destructive colonization and evangelization that followed, helped the Spanish monarchs to amass a great fortune based on indigenous labor and natural resources.

1400–1600

Beginner's guide

During the Renaissance, the Spanish empire extended throughout western Europe and beyond.

videos + essays

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Josefa de Óbidos, <em>Christ Child as Salvator Mundi</em>
Josefa de Óbidos, Christ Child as Salvator Mundi

Josefa de Ayala, commonly called Josefa de Óbidos, is the only woman known to have worked as a painter in Portugal in the seventeenth century.

Gold S. Vincente of João III
Gold S. Vincente of João III

St Vincent, who is portrayed on this coin, was the patron saint of Portugal and of navigation

Royal monastery of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Royal monastery of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

The monastery is an outstanding repository of four centuries of Spanish religious architecture.

University of Alcalá de Henares
University of Alcalá de Henares

Founded by Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros in the early 16th century, Alcalá de Henares was the world's first planned university city.

The Council of Trent and the call to reform art
The Council of Trent and the call to reform art

The impact of the Council of Trent on Catholicism is indisputable, and similarly on a great deal of art made after it ended

The Tower of Belém
The Tower of Belém

The Torre de Belém (Tower of Belém) remains one of the main symbols of Portugal’s global expansion during the so-called Age of Exploration

Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina, <em>Head of Christ</em>
Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina, Head of Christ

Renaissance artist Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina allows viewers to come eye-to-eye with the face of Christ.

Sacred geometry in a mudéjar-style ceiling
Sacred geometry in a mudéjar-style ceiling

A painted and gilded wooden ceiling made in renaissance Spain that was eventually acquired by William Randolf Hearst for Hearst Castle.

The Sopetrán Lamentation in wood
The Sopetrán Lamentation in wood

A theatre box in wood, the Sopetrán Lamentation is a stunning 15th-century sculpture from Spain.

Treasure from Spain, lusterware as luxury
Treasure from Spain, lusterware as luxury

Ceramics that shimmer like gold! Lusterware ceramics made in Manises, Spain in the 15th century were some of the most desirable objects of their time.

Alejo Fernández, <em>The Virgin of the Navigators</em>
Alejo Fernández, The Virgin of the Navigators

If we read Alejo Fernández's The Virgin of the Navigators closely, we can learn an enormous amount about Spain’s role in exploration, trade and commerce, conquest and colonization, and slavery.

Alonso Berruguete, <em>Abraham and Isaac</em>
Alonso Berruguete, Abraham and Isaac

Alonso Berruguete is the most famous sculptor that you have never heard of.

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