Baroque Sevilla

murillo bellas artes sevilla

Ruta de Murillo con blogueros, Consorcio de Turismo de Sevilla.

The 17th century was a fateful period for Sevilla for a number of reasons: economic decline, epidemics such as that of 1649 – which reduced the population by half – wars, and other catastrophes. In the face of such adversity and hardship many people sought refuge in religion and Sevilla became one of the leading protagonists of the Counter Reformation. Nevertheless, the period is known as the exceptional number of outstanding figures in a broad range of artistic fields including painters such as Velazquez, Murillo, Zurbaran and Valdes Leal, and writers and playwrights such as Lope de Vega, Cervantes, Calderon de la Barca, or Quevedo.

Traces of this period are clearly visible in many of Sevilla’s streets and buildings. Once almost a city of convents, Seville boasts as many as 45 monasteries and 28 nunneries, as well as numerous parish churches. The proliferation of religious brotherhoods led Cardinal Fernando Niño de Guevara to regulate Easter processions – which were becoming more and more ostentatious – by, in 1604, establishing an official route or “Carrera Oficial” in which all the brotherhoods had to pass through the Cathedral. During this period fervent devotion to the Virgin Mary developed in the city and the belief in the Immaculate Conception was strongly advocated. Both the sculptor Martinez Montañes and the painter Murillo himself produced great masterpieces depicting the Immaculate Conception.

A tour of Baroque Sevilla should include amongst other sites: the convents, churches such as Santa Maria la Blanca (a former synagogue) with its stucco lacework, and El Salvador, whose two altarpieces by Portuguese Cayetano de Acosta represent the pinacle of Sevilla’s baroque period, the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, the San Telmo Palace (constructed in 1681 as a seminary for orphans and destitute children), and the house of Miguel de Mañara which is still at number 27 Calle Levies.

To get a deeper insight into this particular period, the Fine Arts Museum has an exceptional collection of paintings which shouldn’t be missed. Furthermore, most of the city’s prominent institutions and churches also contain at least one masterpiece created in Sevilla during the Siglo de Oro, including an amazing array of exceptional religious sculptures, such as the Nazareno del Gran Poder carved by Juan de Mesa in 1620, or the Dolorosa de la Macarena which is attributed to the Pedro Roldan School and dates from the secod half of the 17th century. Thus, traces of the baroque period can be found in every corner of the city.