We have seen that Spain as well as Germany and the Low Countries were under the rule of the Emperor Charles V., and therefore it is unnecessary to look further for the sources of influence which brought the wave of Renaissance to the Spanish carvers and cabinet makers.
After Van Eyck was sent for to paint the portrait of King John's daughter, the Low Countries continued to export to the Peninsula painters, sculptors, tapestry weavers, and books on Art. French artists also found employment in Spain, and the older Gothic became superseded as in other countries. Berruguete, a Spaniard, who had studied in the atelier of Michael Angelo, returned to his own country with the new influence strong upon him, and the vast wealth and resources of Spain at this period of her history enabled her nobles to indulge their taste in cabinets richly ornamented with repoussé plaques of silver, and later of tortoiseshell, of ebony, and of scarce woods from her Indian possessions; though in a more general way chesnut was still a favorite medium.
Contemporary with decorative woodwork of Moorish design there was also a great deal of carving, and of furniture made, after designs brought from Italy and the North of Europe; and Mr. J.H. Pollen, quoting a trustworthy Spanish writer, Senor J.F. Riario, says:—"The brilliant epoch of sculpture (in wood) belongs to the sixteenth century, and was due to the great impulse it received from the works of Berruguete and Felipe de Borgona. He was the chief promoter of the Italian style, and the choir of the Cathedral of Toledo, where he worked so much, is the finest specimen of the kind in Spain. Toledo, Seville, and Valladolid were at the time great productive and artistic centres."
The same writer, after discussing the characteristic Spanish cabinets, decorated outside with fine ironwork and inside with columns of bone painted and gilt, which were called "Varguenos," says:—"The other cabinets or escritoires belonging to that period (sixteenth century) were to a large extent imported from Germany and Italy, while others were made in Spain in imitation of these, and as the copies were very similar it is difficult to classify them." * * *
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