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The Scandinavian Countries
By the 17th century Sweden was becoming stronger and more influential than the other
Scandinavian countries. This was a golden age for Swedish art. Queen Christina, ‘the Minerva
of the North’, (1632-1654) attracted many artists and intellectuals to her court, thus continuing
the tradition of foreign influence in Swedish artworks. Two important constructions of this period
illustrate this, Drottningholm Castle (begun 1662) which holds both Dutch and French influence,
and the Royal Palace in Stockholm (begun 1697) which shows the influence of the famous
Italian, Bernini. These buildings were constructed by Sweden’s first internationally recognised
architects, Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and his son Count Nicodemus Tessin the Younger. In
painting and sculpture it was foreign-born artists who dominated the arts scene. In the latter
half of the century the most prominent of these artists was German-born David Klöcker
Ehrenstrahl, considered the father of Swedish art for his role in introducing Sweden into the
mainstream European arts scene. Denmark similarly received strong influences from the
Netherlands and France. This is demonstrated in the works of King Christian V’s master builder,
Lambert van Haven in such Dutch inspired works as the Church of Our Saviour (1682-1696) in
Copenhagen.
Spain
17th century Spain was rife with war, loss of territory and economic crisis throwing its status as
a world power into decline. Despite this the Spanish arts continued to flourish and followed the
path of of mainstream Europe from Mannerism to the Baroque. Although Luis Tristán was the
only artist to continue El Greco’s style into the 17th century, Spanish artists continued to be
influenced by Italy. An example of this is Valencia-based artist Francisco Ribalta (c. 1565-1628)
who adapted the Italian style to produce highly Spanish works with a nationalistic quality. A
further example of the infuence of Italy can be seen in the work of José de Ribera, who was
heavily influenced by Caravaggio and remained unique from other Spanish painters in his
depiction of mythological scenes. Further Spanish adaption of the Italian and particularly
Caravaggio school of art can be seen in the pious images produced by Franciso de Zurbarán
and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. The most obviously Baroque style work produced in Spain
during this period was that of Juan Valdés Leal (1622-1690). His most notable work in this style
is the Allegory of Death. The Seville school came into its own during this period with the pictorial
experiments and expressive violence of Juan de Roelas (1558/60-1625) and his students.
Painted wooden statues became popular during this century with the work of Alonso Cano and
Montañés (1568–1649) whose works gained popularity due to their expressive and intense
religious fervour.
Allegory of Death Juan Valdés
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