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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Diego de Pesquera (Spanish, Castile (?), ca. 1540–after 1581, Mexico (?), active 1563–80)
Date: 1567–68Accession Number: 45.128.5
Possibly by Diego de Tiedra (Spanish, died 1559)
Date: mid-16th centuryAccession Number: 34.34
Date: first half 16th centuryAccession Number: 94.4.358
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The objects arranged around this balcony from a great Spanish courtyard attest to the artistic diversity of the kingdoms of Spain. Rich decoration and animated forms were nurtured by contact with Islam, Italy, Northern Europe, and the Americas. By the late fourteenth century, the area around Valencia had become a leading producer of prized lusterware—ceramic vessels that derive their seductive iridescence from a glaze containing copper and silver compounds. The potters' techniques and designs, combining geometry with nature, reflect an Islamic influence that is discernible in many Spanish arts, including textiles and furniture.
Wood was the preferred material for sculpture, primarily made to stimulate religious devotion, and usually painted to enhance its realism and poignancy. Sculpted holy figures were exported throughout the Spanish colonies, including those in the New World, to promote Catholicism. The discovery of the Americas and its precious-metal mines boosted Spanish goldsmiths' work, providing a steady stream of silver for fashioning religious accessories and secular vessels, grandly adorned with masks in the ancient Roman style and other Italian Renaissance ornamental motifs.
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