Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco

Spanish, Almería
Marble of Macael (Sierra de Filabres)
H. (to top of cornice) 33 ft.; W. 44 ft.; L. 63 ft.
Credit Line:
Bequest of George Blumenthal, 1941
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The castle of Don Pedro Fajardo y Chacón (ca. 1478–1546) stands above the town of Vélez Blanco, near the southeastern coast of Spain. Fajardo, raised in the culture of humanism, was governor of Murcia during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella and assisted in suppressing Moorish rebellions in their lands. By royal act, he was given the town of Vélez Blanco, and between 1506 and 1515 he erected a castle with a central courtyard embellished with Italian Renaissance ornament in local Macael marble craved by craftsmen from Lombardy.

    Ornament in this style was known in Spain as "a lo Romano," reflecting its origins in the monuments of Roman antiquity. Designs composed of tiered candelabra and imaginary hybrid creatures such as those surrounding the doors and windows of the patio were disseminated throughout Europe in the prints of Italian artists, themselves inspired by the ancient monuments rediscovered in Rome in the early Renaissance. The patio carvings are among the earliest of this style in Spain and antedate any of these published designs. The coats of arms carved between the arches of the arcade are those of Don Pedro and his second wife, Doña Mencía de la Cueva Mendoza de la Vega y Toledo, a member of the powerful and cultivated Mendoza family, influential advocates of the culture of Renaissance humanism.

    The patio's marble fittings were sold by the castle's owner in 1904. George Blumenthal acquired them in Paris in 1913 and had them incorporated in his New York town house. In 1945, after his death and the demolition of his residence, the approximately two thousand marble blocks were brought to the museum, where they were reassembled, as faithfully as possible, in 1964.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: (On flat band below cornice of second storey) PETRUS FAGIARDUS: MARCHIO DE VELIZ PRIMUS: AC REGNI MURCIE QUINTUS PREFECTUS SUE PROSAPIE HANC ARCEM IN ARCE TITULI EREXIT: CEPTUM OPUS ANO AB ORTU CRISTI MILLESSIMO QUINGENTESSIMO SEXTO PERFECTUM ANNO QUINTODECIMO SUPRA MILESSIUM AC QUINGENTESSIMO (Pedro Fajardo, first Marqués of Vélez and fifth governor of the Kingdom of Murcia and his lineage, erected this castle as the castle of his title. The work was started in the year 1506 after the birth of Christ and finished in the year 1515)

  • Provenance

    George and Florence Blumenthal (until 1941; his bequest to MMA)

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History