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.

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Gil de Siloé, façade of San Gregorio, Valladolid
Gil de Siloé, façade of San Gregorio, Valladolid

The entrance to San Gregorio epitomizes some of the inventive, complex architectural forms present on the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century

The Rise and Fall of the Avis Dynasty in Portugal, an introduction
The Rise and Fall of the Avis Dynasty in Portugal, an introduction

For almost two hundred years, the Avis dynasty ruled Portugal and helped drive its transition from a small agricultural kingdom on the periphery of Christendom to a pioneer in global exploration, colonization, and trade.

Belém Monstrance
Belém Monstrance

The Belém Monstrance is an object of extraordinary artistry that embodies an immediate response to events taking place in Portugal and its overseas expansion.

Portuguese contacts and exchanges, c. 1400–1800
Portuguese contacts and exchanges, c. 1400–1800

Portuguese explorations paved the way for other European nations to travel, conquer, and exploit regions of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific. This chapter includes artworks from the 1400s, when Portuguese voyages began to explore the coast of Africa, through the early 1800s, when Brazil gained political independence from Portugal.

The Cantino Planisphere
The Cantino Planisphere

The Cantino planisphere, made by an unknown Portuguese chartmaker depicts what the Portuguese knew of the world in 1502.

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 17th 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.

Selected Contributors