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Silverwork during the reigns of Philip III and Philip IV

In the 17 th century, a typical Spanish style is developed which was different to the rest of Europe . During the first part of the century, the ornamental repertory has little variations compared to the previous century. Most of the figurative decoration disappears and the abstract geometric ornamentation spreads. The sober style is predominant. Metal polish and eliptic and rectangular mirrors -some with opac enamels surrounded by cartouches and struts- are to be found during that period. Half way into the century, Baroque motifs were developed which had been inspired from vegetation. Such examples are struts, fallen leaves, handles and pilasters. The price of the pieces was reduced by the decline in quality and lack of ornamentation. The price of the object ended up being inferior that the value of the metal.

Many secular objects existed, however very few remain nowadays. Kings and Nobles demanded these types of objects. On the other hand many religious objects remain until today and will be analysed below.

In chalices , the structure of the handle consists of a conical stem, with a tulip shape and a circular knop. The circular base has a three-part plinth being the central convex. This type of chalice is very popular and remains until the beginning of the 18 th century. The simplicity of the parts doesn't mean they are not beautiful. On the contrary, the proportions and balance in volumes should be emphasised. (print10).

10. Chalice. Private colection. Madrid.

The cimboriums are similar to chalices in stem, handle and knop.

The structural characteristics of the processional crosses are straight arms with semicircular enlargements and slightly marked clover designs. The rectangular intersection of the arms of the cross of the previous period becomes circular with pear-shaped ornaments at the end of the arms. At the beginning of the century, there are baldaquins ending in a dome separated by pilasters or buttresses. In the second half of the century, the structural elements become simpler.

Related to monstrances, we find the so-called "sun monstrances", with the viril or glass case surrounded by straight and undulated alternating rays. This glass case has a circular frame, which, sometimes is decorated with polished precious stones of enamel, cherubs faces or mouldings. The base and shaft follow the same typology as the chalices, which are finished off with a cross (print 11)

11. Monstrance glass case Santa Maria, Courel. Lugo.

Other religious pieces are the so called navetas , they are nave-shaped vessels to keep the incense placed in the hull. They were called navetas because of their nave shape. The incense holders , considered a processional piece by por Juan de Arfe, consists of a base, a semispheric or semioval small brazier, a cylindric smoke pipe with open work hatches or oculos, and a cup. They have some chains, which start from the brazier, go through some rings and are held in the stole. The frequent use of these pieces resulted in their deterioration. (print 12).

12. Incense holder. Santa Maria, Courel. Lugo.

According to Master Arfe, the blandon - big candlestick and the lamps were considered part of the chapel funrniter. The first piece was triangular or circular based. Triangular bases are mounted on branches or legs. The handle was usually cylindrical and overelaborate, with a cylindrical candlestick to hold the candle. On the front of one of the bases we usually find the coat of arms of the donour or his brotherhood. The handle or shaft, which used to be oval in the Low Renaissance has a shape of an inverted pear. Th ese pieces are normally 50 centimetres high. (print 13).

13. Blandon - big candlestick . Museum of the Mother Clarisas . Monforte de Lemos. Lugo.

The lamps consist of a deep large tray with a projecting drip-collar of 40 centimetres in diameter. The main section is decorated with vegetal or even belts c-shaped concave adornment. It is finished off with an ovoid zone. The glass where the lighting is placed is held by three or four chains that start from the leading boards of the lamp. The superior and main parts are the same in structure and decoration. This model appears in the 16 th century and is present until the 19 th century (print 14), with only the ornamental language changing

14. Lamp. Church of the convent of Mother Clarisas. Monforte de Lemos. Lugo.

Other illumination fittings are the secular use candelabra, smaller in size than the ones used in church. They have a circular or square base and a cylindrical pedestal and candlestick (print 15).

15. Candlestick. Museum of Mother Clarisas. Monforte de Lemos. Lugo.


Hall, J., Diccionario de temas y simbolos artisticos , Madrid, 1987, pags. 96-102.

Saez Gonzalez, M., La plateria en Terra de Lemos , Lugo, 2003, pag. 23.

Cruz Valdovinos, J. M., Ciclo de Conferencias: El Madrid de Carlos III , "La Real Escuela de Plateria de don Antonio Martinez, Madrid, 1988.

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