The Solomonic Legacy in Early Bourbon Spain
1Fairfield University, Fairfield CT, USA, 2NYIT, New York, NY, USA
Hapsburg Spain exhibited a unique concern with Solomonic forms (particularly twisted columns), most notably during Philip II’s building of the Escorial. It may seem strange that a building whose character and language epitomized the “unornamented style” of its authors, Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera, should trigger such sentiments of license and permutation. Yet from the outset, the Escorial was associated with Solomon’s Temple, both literally (in plan and architectural detail) and metaphorically (Philip II as a new Solomon). The monastery’s librarian, Benito Arias Montano, had produced his own reconstruction of the Temple (1571-72), as well as the Jesuit Juan Bautista Villalpando, who trained under Herrera at the Escorial and whose treatise and commentary on the Temple was published in Rome in 1598-1604. In the wake of these two seminal texts, a number of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Spanish architects and writers on architecture (Juan Ricci, Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz, and Josť de Hermosilla in particular) returned to the question of the Solomonic disposition and its relevance to contemporary practice.
That the Escorial was a monument rooted in the psyche of Spanish Hapsburg culture comes as little surprise. Yet its sustained revival in early Bourbon Spain seems curious, particularly as the first two Bourbon monarchs, Philip V and his son Ferdinand VI, patronized new building campaigns and deliberately decided to be interred in monuments of their own choosing and design. The present study will examine the lasting impact of the Escorial in the early eighteenth century as both an exemplar of Greco-Roman classicism, and a distinctly Spanish contribution to the history of European architecture.