Even during the sixteenth century, when the Holy Roman Emperor resided in Spain and made that country the greatest power of the earth, Spain could never aspire to cultural hegemony over the rival states of Europe. Long after the Renaissance had won its most resolute victories abroad, she clung tenaciously to the late Gothic spirit in art, and by the time she was at last able to embrace the new learning that poured in from the north and the east, the specters of Luther and Erasmus had made humanism distasteful to her ruling classes. Thus, while Spain would come to adopt many of the formal conventions and technical innovations of the new art, never did she do so with the creative abandon that had characterized the cultural life of the rest of Europe.

It is only with the seventeenth century, known as the Siglo de Oro, or the Golden Century, that our average art lover begins to recognize the names of a few...


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