Alvaro Pascual Chenel (Alcalá), »España con Religion y Justicia«. Iconography and Personifications of the Spanish Monarchy in the Seventeenth Century: Image and Propaganda

The idea of Spain as a nation during the ancient regime is difficult to define since it is a loose and imprecise concept. The Spanish monarchy during the 16th and 17th centuries is a much more complicated reality. It was a fragmented political network with a plurinational empire, whose domain reached extensive territories, many of them far in between, thus constituting a pluriterritorial monarchy as well as a supranational one, where several kingdoms and possessions with particular idiosyncrasies and differentiating traits converge. These differences were at times difficult to reconcile, as the only common denominator was that they all shared the same King- a foreign one to most territories- but with absolute power and sovereignty over his domains, a factor that was by no means stable.
In light of this and with an interdisciplinary method we will analyze the construction, propaganda usage and uses of the personifications and allegories of the Spanish monarchy during the 17th century, inserting them in its precise historical context. In a culture where society gave great importance to the extraordinary value and effectiveness of the image, it is easy to understand the role the visual arts (specially painting, ephemeral art and sculpture) played in the consolidation of the royal subject and sovereignty, which were projected in every direction.
The configuration of the personified allegory of Spain has its roots in the feminine figures that appear in the coins of the »Hispania Romana« with allegorical attributes such as the military attire, weapons of warfare, the laurel, the spikes or the olive branch. Many of them will remain unchanged, incorporating new attributes and images depending on the political context of the times. For example to allude to the extension of the monarchy a recurrent resource is to portray the personifications of the different kingdoms of the monarchy as kings of arms, or even more popular, to include allegories of Europe, America, Africa, and Asia. In much the same way, other closely linked allegories deal with the implicit obligations of the »officium regis« among them mainly Justice, together with the rest of the cardinal virtues, pillars of good governance of the State.
Indissolubly tied to the monarchy which received the title of catholic, will always be the figure of religion and Catholic Faith, which was defended and expanded more than any other fundamental pillar. Very interesting too is to review and compare the visual differences of the Spanish monarchy iconography and its French counterpart, as well as the transmission of virtues and attributes to the representations of Queens, ultimate guaranty of the continuation of the monarchy, a key and transcendental issue to hereditary monarchies.

????????????????????????????????????Alvaro Pascual Chenel, degree in History with extraordinary award at Alcalá de Henares University (Madrid), 2000; predoctoral Research fellow, Spanish Ministry of Education and Royal College of Spain in Bologna, 2001–2007; PhD in History, Alcalá University, 2008 and PhD in Art History, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna (Italy), 2008; postdoctoral visiting scholar at the Royal Academy of Spain in Rome, 2009; postdoctoral researcher at Alcalá University, 2010; postdoctoral researcher at CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), 2011–2013; postdoctoral researcher as visiting scholar at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and The Courtauld Institute of Arts 2010–2014; postdoctoral researcher, Alcalá University, 2014.
His main research interests are the state portrait in Spanish Monarchy and the Court art in the seventeenth century (painting and drawing). Some of the most important publications on this topics are: El retrato de Estado durante el reinado de Carlos II. Imagen y propaganda, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2010; Retórica del poder y persuasión política: Los retratos dobles de Carlos II y Mariana de Austria, in: Goya, 2010, 331, p. 124–145; Algunas consideraciones acerca de los bronces ecuestres italianos de Carlos II: vicisitudes, relaciones, usos y funciones, in: Archivo Español de Arte 338 (2012), p. 165–180; Fiesta sacra y poder político: la iconografía de los Austrias como defensores de la Eucaristía y la Inmaculada en Hispanoamérica, in: Hipogrifo. Revista de literatura y cultura del Siglo de Oro 1 (2013), p. 57–86; Vicente Carducho and Drawings of the Life and Posthumous Miracles of St. Diego of Alcalá, in: Master Drawings 52-54 (2014), p. 481–496; Cultura política y retrato de corte: autoridad, lealtad, fidelidad y obediencia en la Monarquía de España en el cambio de siglo (1661–1714), in: Bravo Lozano, Cristina y Quirós Rosado, Roberto (eds.), Los hilos de Penélope. Lealtad y fidelidades en la Monarquía de España (1648–1714) Valencia, 2015, p. 219–240; La construcción visual de la imagen regia durante el reinado de Carlos II. Simulacros de Majestad y propaganda política, in: A. Álvarez-Ossorio, B. Garcia y García (ed.), Vísperas de Sucesión. Europa y la Monarquía de Carlos II, Madrid, Fundación Carlos de Amberes, Doce Calles, Madrid 2015, p. 297–331; Vicente Carducho. Dibujos. Catálogo razonado, Madrid, Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, 2015.


Monarchía de España o Deducción histórica y jurídica de los derechos del Rey Catholico. 1622. Pedro Salazar de Mendoza

Frontispiece of: Pedro Salazar de Mendoza, Monarchía de España o Deducción histórica y jurídica de los derechos del Rey Catholico (1622).


To the program.

Cite this blog post
dhiparis (2016, January 8). Alvaro Pascual Chenel (Alcalá), »España con Religion y Justicia«. Iconography and Personifications of the Spanish Monarchy in the Seventeenth Century: Image and Propaganda. Virgins, Wives, Mothers. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from

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