2023-2024 Catalog

ARTH 273 Arts of the Spanish Empire (1516-1700)

Each week, the class will travel the world to discover artists from different parts of the Spanish Empire, moving across the Iberian peninsula to Flanders, Southern Italy, the Philippines, Mexico, Peru and many more sites. This course explores the arts of the Spanish Monarchy from the plurality of perspectives and voices that composed this global empire ruled by the Habsburg dynasty (1516-1700). This will mainly concentrate on the arts of painting and sculpture, two crucial cultural traditions of this period. We will explore what “painting” and “sculpture” meant in different parts of the Empire, and how it also could integrate a broad range of decorative materials like feathers, gold, shell and ivory. Themes like religious visions, portraits, and still life will all receive attention. Famous artists and objects like Velazquez’ Las Meninas will come into conversation with the lesser-known and even anonymous makers of indigenous, creole and African descent, which all contributed to the history of sculpture and painting under the Spanish monarchy. Representations of power and artistic identity will intersect with issues of race, gender and class that structured societies under Spanish colonial and monarchic hegemony.  Ultimately, students will come away with a much broader understanding of what well-known artistic traditions like painting and sculpture can mean in a globalizing and more culturally-heterogeneous world. Visits to nearby museums will also be included.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Pre-1800
  • Fine Arts
  • Global Connections