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Conservation et restauration

Applied brocade in Spain

Origin, making procedures and designs in Northern Spain
Ainhoa Rodríguez-López and Fernando Bazeta Gobantes

Abstracts

The lack of thorough studies of the significant number of examples of applied brocade found in the last two decades in Spain, originated in 2009 a European PhD thesis with Honours. This investigation presents an analysis and classification of the patterns, making procedures and combinations of materials of the applied brocades of the wooden altarpieces of the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, Northern Spain. Further studies have focused on the use of other analytical techniques that have completed the previous results and more recently, are being examined patterns of applied brocades belonging to the altarpieces sited in the other two provinces of the Basque Country.

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Introduction

  • 1 Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzco (...)

1Applied brocade, more accurately described as applied tin-relief brocade, is found in Spain on a variety of art and specifically, in the North prevails on wooden altarpieces. Instigated by the lack of in-depth studies in Spain, the first extensive research on applied brocade has been carried out as a European PhD1. The analytical results stemmed from the six early sixteenth century altarpieces with applied brocade of Gipuzkoa have been completed with other techniques proved particularly useful for the study of some materials of the applied brocades. Stylistic examination of the patterns located in the wooden altarpieces of Gipuzkoa, Araba and Bizkaia has led to a broader knowledge of the designs in the Basque Country and has enabled the finding of repeated patterns. The latter is providing insight into the attribution of the altarpieces and the dispersal of the artistic practice of the applied brocade in the Basque Country and nearby areas.

2The precursor techniques of the applied brocade, its construction procedure based on bibliography and analysed examples, and a review of the documentation on Spanish cases with a brief description of their historical background and location put into context the previous corpus of information.

Origin of applied brocade

  • 2 Frinta Mojmír, S., “The use of wax for appliqué relief brocade on wooden statuary”, dans Studies in (...)

3Since the eighth century, European painters have decorated their works with different relief motifs. In the beginning, these were representations of objects, which were iconographically important, such as halos made out of metal leaves applied to the artwork with nails. From the twelfth century and up to the sixteenth century, the aim to realistically reproduce the fabrics of the time motivated painters to experiment with different techniques and painting materials to develop a wide range of relief techniques2.

  • 3 Nadolny, J. M., The techniques and use of gilded relief decoration by northern European painters, c (...)
  • 4 Rodríguez López, A., Bazeta Gobantes, F., “El brocado de estaño en relieve aplicado. Evolución hist (...)

4Painters created three-dimensional motifs in three basic ways: 1. by subtraction (eliminating material selectively from the preparation layers); 2. by deformation (applying pressure with a mould or a burin on the area to be decorated); and 3. by addition (applying material to the surface)3. The third type comprises the largest variety of techniques, including applied brocade. This group of techniques was determinant for the development of applied brocade (a detailed glossary of terms with a description of each technique is provided at Rodríguez López and Bazeta Gobantes 2014)4.

Making procedure of applied brocade

  • 5 González López, M. J., “Brocado aplicado: fuentes escritas, materiales y técnicas de ejecución,” da (...)
  • 6 Serck-Dewaide, M., “The history and conservation of the surface coating on European gilded-wood obj (...)

5Several publications provide thorough descriptions of the stages that the old artisans followed to obtain this painted relief decoration5. The creation of the mould by engraving the motif, including details such as the threads of the textile brocade, defines the first stage of the process. The most likely materials for the mould would be wood (a hard wood), metal (like lead) and stone. Afterwards, the tin leaf is placed on top of the mould and is covered with flax fibres or similar to absorb the beating of a mallet with which the tin leaf is pressed into the mould. The gaps left in the tin leaf are filled with a semi-liquid material that according to the written sources show a wide variety of materials that form the basis for the different mixtures. These materials are: wax (usually beeswax), resin, oil (like linseed), honey, animal glue, egg white, chalk, gypsum, plaster of Paris, paper bibers, tin leaf flakes and colour pigments6.

  • 7 Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzco (...)
  • 8 Darrah, J. A., “White and golden tin foil in applied relief decoration: 1240-1530”, dans Looking th (...)

6Once the filling material is almost dried, the tin leaf is separated from the mould and is prepared following a different procedure whether it is a juxtaposed or isolated decoration. A juxtaposed decoration implies a straight cut of the tin leaf to create a regular pattern (juxtaposed applied brocade) that when put side by side gives a continuous decoration. An isolated decoration consists of isolated pieces (isolated applied brocade) cut following the shapes of the patterns to create random decorations7. Both juxtaposed and isolated brocade motifs can be adhered to the surface of the artwork with adhesive composed of wax, resin, oil, animal glue, chalk and pigments in different combinations. Only isolated patterns are applied over drying colour glazes that act as an adhesive. Rarely, juxtaposed applied brocades are held in place with no adhesive layer8.

  • 9 Serck-Dewaide, M., “The history and conservation of the surface coating on European gilded-wood obj (...)

7Generally, the tin leaf is gilded with gold leaf using a mordant (constituted by diverse mixtures of resin, oil -typically linseed-, animal glue, egg, chalk and colour pigments) and next, the flat areas are painted with opaque paints or glazes (red, blue, green, black and white) to stand out the motif of the brocade. The common practice when working with juxtaposed brocades is to gild and paint the tin leaf once the desired surface of the artwork has been completely covered with the brocades; whereas with isolated brocades they are gilded before their application onto the artwork and once applied they are painted9.

8In summary, the common layer structure -from bottom to top- of the applied brocade is the following: 1. Ground, 2. Imprimatura, 3. Adhesive, 4. Filling mass, 5. Tin leaf, 6. Mordant, 7. Gold leaf and 8. Opaque paint and/or glaze.

Applied brocade in Spain

Documentary sources

  • 10 Estrade Alda, M. M., “El brocado aplicado, una técnica insólita empleada en el retablo de Santa Mar (...)
  • 11 Arrazola, M.A., Martiarena, X., Barrio, M., Berasain, I., Larrañaga, I. Okaranza, R., Bidaurretako (...)
  • 12 For a detailed bibliography on Spanish cases go to Rodríguez López, A., Bazeta Gobantes, F., “El br (...)

9The first Spanish publication that mentions the technique of applied brocade is a book from 1943 by María Elena Gómez Moreno. She briefly discusses applied brocade by referring to técnica flamenca del grabado o de la cera (engraving or wax Flemish technique). The technique of applied brocade began to be more frequently studied in Spain from a historical and scientific point of view in 1988. That same year, two important examples of the technique were discovered in the Basque Country and were discussed in two different publications from 1991. One focuses on the motifs of applied brocade found in the main altarpiece of Santa María de Galdakao in the province of Bizkaia10 and the other on the conservation and restoration of the Plateresco style altarpiece of la Santísima Trinidad at the monastery of Bidaurreta of Oñati in the province of Gipuzkoa11. From 1990, primarily two institutions worked on the study and classification of new samples: the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain (IPCE, by its Spanish abbreviation) in Madrid and the Restoration Service of the Provincial Council of Araba in the Basque Country. The resulting researches helped with spreading knowledge and information about applied brocade in Spain by means of speeches at congresses, specialized publications, technical and practical courses and registration of artworks with applied brocade12.

  • 13 Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzco (...)
  • 14 Roberto Amieva, M. A., El brocado aplicado en Aragón. Fuentes, tipologías y aspectos técnicos. (PhD (...)

10A remarkable amount of unpublished documentation, in the form of reports, can be found in the Restoration Services of the Provincial Councils of the Basque Country, Historical Heritage Institutes (IPCE and Andalusian Institute of Historic Heritage, IAPH, by its Spanish abbreviation) and conservation and restoration companies. These reports describe the conservation and restoration works performed on altarpieces and isolated artworks with brief sections dealing with samples of discovered applied brocades. Worthy of mention are two recent doctoral theses that focus exclusively on applied brocade and its uses in two geographical areas of the North of Spain: the province of Gipuzkoa13 (autonomous community of the Basque Country and the provinces of Zaragoza and Huesca14 (autonomous community of Aragon).

11An analysis of the existing documentation on the topic unveils the lack of extensive and global publications in Spain about applied brocade from a historical, stylistic, technical and material perspective.

Historical background

  • 15 Nadolny, J. M., The techniques and use of gilded relief decoration by northern European painters, c (...)

12The most recent documentary sources pinpoint the origin of applied brocade to 1415-1431 based on five panel paintings that have relief applications similar to the motifs and technique used in applied brocade15.

  • 16 González López, M. J., “Brocado aplicado: fuentes escritas, materiales y técnicas de ejecución,” da (...)

13Flanders, from the old territory of The Netherlands16; is suggested as the point of origin, however, the latest studies on the previous five panel paintings suggest other locations: Cologne (Germany), Berlin (Germany), Hamburg (Germany), the old territory of The Netherlands and Norwich (England). In addition to the old territory of The Netherlands, the place of origin of the technique should include Germany and England. It became a very popular decorative technique in artworks from the middle of the fifteenth century.

  • 17 García Ramos, R., Ruiz de Arcaute Martínez, E., “Aproximación al brocado aplicado en España: Desarr (...)
  • 18 Echeverría Goñi, P. L., Retablos. Euskadi. Catálogos del Centro de Patrimonio Cultural Vasco, Vitor (...)
  • 19 Gómez Espinosa, T., “Policromía del gótico final. Retablo mayor de la catedral de Toledo y obras bu (...)
  • 20 García Ramos, R., Ruiz de Arcaute Martínez, E., “Aproximación al brocado aplicado en España: Desarr (...)

14The technique was introduced to Spain in the middle of the fifteenth century17 through the importation of numerous triptychs of Gothic style created in the old southern area of The Netherlands. This avenue of introduction was further reinforced around the first third of the sixteenth century with the arrival of foreign artists from the North of Europe, who were familiar with applied brocade and used it in Spanish late-gothic artworks18. At the same time, native painters began slowly assimilating and interpreting this type of decoration according to their own style and started introducing it in their own artworks. From the middle of the sixteenth century this relief technique was scarcely employed whilst esgrafiado became increasingly popular19. Therefore, the range of use of applied brocade in Spain was approximately a century; 1450-155020.

Examples of applied brocade in Spain

15At present 145 artworks in Spain present applied brocade decoration. In concrete, 78 (above a 50% of the total amount) correspond to altarpieces and the remaining to sculptures. Most of them, specifically 136 pieces (including those found in Madrid; autonomous community situated in the center of Spain), are located in the North of the Peninsula. According to this, the provinces that keep the highest number of artworks with applied brocade are Araba and Burgos with 20 cases each one, followed by Palencia with 18 cases and Bizkaia with 17 cases. These locations are spread throughout the Northern route used for the introduction of the technique in Spain that connected the Cantabrian Sea ports with Burgos. More than a 50% of the 145 artworks date from the sixteenth century, whereas the other 50% mainly date from the fifteenth century, in compliance with the period of use of applied brocade in Spain.

State-of-the-art in Northern Spain

Methodology

  • 21 Echeverría Goñi, P. L., Retablos. Euskadi. Catálogos del Centro de Patrimonio Cultural Vasco, Vitor (...)

16The material and layer composition of the six altarpieces that cover the entire geographical area of the province of Gipuzkoa has been studied. The six altarpieces are the following21: the triptych of la Asunción-Coronación de la Virgen in the church of la Asunción de Santa María, Errenteria (circa 1505-1510), attributed to an unknown workshop; the triptych of San Antón in the church of San Pedro Apóstol, Zumaia (circa 1510-1515), attributed to unknown workshops; the altarpiece of la Piedad in the church of San Miguel Arcángel, Oñati (1533-1536), by Gaspar de Tordesillas, Andrés de Mendiguren, Miguel de Iragorri, Juan Martínez de Olazarán, Juan de Ayala II and Andrés de Espinosa; the altarpiece of San Juan Bautista in the church of San Miguel Arcángel, Oñati (circa 1530-1555), attributed to unknown workshops; the altarpiece of la Santísima Trinidad in the monastery of la Santísima Trinidad of Bidaurreta, Oñati (circa 1531-1533), by Juan Martínez de Olazarán and probably Lope Lorenzo and Martín Ochoa de Irazábal; and the altarpiece of San Miguel in the church of San Miguel Arcángel, Alzaga (circa 1530-1550), attributed to unknown workshops.

  • 22 Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzco (...)

17A protocol of analysis has been created to obtain a complete understanding of the different types of applied brocades employed in the altarpieces. The use of multiple analytical techniques has been essential for the identification of the organic and inorganic components22. The designs of the applied brocades of 16 altarpieces located in the Basque Country have been studied.

  • 23 Echeverría Goñi, P. L., Retablos. Euskadi. Catálogos del Centro de Patrimonio Cultural Vasco, Vitor (...)

18Six altarpieces are sited in Gipuzkoa (the aforementioned ones). Three in Bizkaia23: the main altarpiece of la Asunción de Nuestra Señora in the church of la Asunción de Nuestra Señora, Lekeitio (carving, circa 1507-1511 and painting and polychromy, 1511-1514), attributed to an unknown Master of Lekeitio and Maese Juan García de Crisal; the main altarpiece of Santa María in the church of la Asunción, Markina-Xemein (carving, 1526-1530 and painting and polychromy, 1540-1545), by Juan Martínez de Ayala el Viejo, Diego Ruiz and other artists; and the main altarpiece of San Martín Obispo in the church of San Martín Obispo, Arrieta (circa 1520-1525), attributed to unknown workshops.

  • 24 Echeverría Goñi, P. L., Retablos. Euskadi. Catálogos del Centro de Patrimonio Cultural Vasco, Vitor (...)

19And seven in Araba24: the altarpiece of el Santo Cristo in the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, Artziniega (circa 1525-1550), attributed to the Beaugrant workshop; the main altarpiece of Nuestra Señora de la Encina in the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, Artziniega (1510-20), attributed to unknown workshops; the altarpiece of la Piedad or la Pasión in the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Delika (circa 1530-50), attributed to the Beaugrant workshop; the main altarpiece of San Juan Bautista in the church of San Juan Bautista, Aspuru (circa 1515-1520), attributed to unknown workshops; the main altarpiece of San Nicolás de Bari in the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art of Vitoria-Gasteiz (place of origin: the church of San Nicolás de Bari, Fontecha) (circa 1539), by Diego Guillén, Ortega de Córdoba and workshop of Diego de Torres; the main altarpiece of San Bartolomé in the church of San Bartolomé, Olano (circa 1520), attributed to unknown workshops; and the main altarpiece of San Vicente Mártir in the church of San Vicente Mártir, San Vicente de Arana (circa 1530-1563), attributed to unknown workshops.

20Documentary sources, most of them non-published internal reports kept in official institutions and art conservation studios, have been studied to get access to the wide variety of designs employed in the decorations of the altarpieces. Those belonging to the altarpieces of Gipuzkoa have been personally documented in situ.

Making procedures of applied brocade in Gipuzkoa

Ground

21Grounds were predominantly calcium sulphate, the exception being applied brocades of the triptych of Errenteria where calcite, calcium carbonate (CaCO3), was used applied in multiple layers. In most cases, the calcium sulphate grounds consisted of a coarse and thick ground layer at the bottom (yeso grueso), predominantly anhydrite (anhydrous calcium sulphate: CaSO4) and a fine and thin ground layer on the top (yeso fino), predominantly gypsum (calcium sulphate dihydrate: CaSO4·2H2O). In some samples, the two gesso layers were applied in several layers sealed with a protein layer (probably glue) and in some other cases they were applied in a single layer. Other grounds had only a single zone of calcium sulphate identified as anhydrite and as anhydrite with occasional gypsum.

22The calcium sulphate was normally mixed with a protein-containing material (likely animal glue) and oil in different proportions. The upper layer of the ground was usually sealed with a protein layer (possibly glue). Calcium carbonate, calcite, mixed with a protein-containing material and oil with an oil sealing layer were found in the triptych of Errenteria that is documented to come from Central Europe. Calcium carbonate grounds were more common in Central Europe than in Southern Europe where prevailed calcium sulphate grounds. The data showed that the ground used for juxtaposed applied brocades was more varied in terms of materials and construction than those of isolated applied brocades.

Imprimatura

23The imprimatura between the ground and the applied brocade differed depending on whether it was juxtaposed or isolated brocade. Juxtaposed applied brocades were applied on top of one, two, three and four paint layers. These layers were white, orange or earth coloured principally composed of lead white and earth pigments. The most usual binding medium was a mixture of oil and protein. Isolated brocades were very often applied over glazes of organic red or copper-based green bound in oil and protein. These glazes were on top of silver leaf applied over an orange coloured bole made up of earth pigments mixed with protein (probably glue).

Adhesive

24Juxtaposed applied brocades appeared adhered with a layer of a protein-based adhesive over the coloured imprimatura, as found in the altarpieces of San Juan Bautista, la Santísima Trinidad and Alzaga. Resin or gum was also found in the altarpiece of San Juan Bautista. A small number of samples from the triptychs of Errenteria and Zumaia did not show adhesive.

25The most common practice was the application of isolated applied brocades without adhesive on top of a tacky red or green glaze over silver leaf applied on a layer of bole, as observed in the triptychs of Errenteria, Zumaia and the altarpiece of la Piedad. Nevertheless, in both the triptych of Zumaia and the altarpiece of Alzaga, adhesive was identified on top of the glaze. In Zumaia, calcium sulphate mixed with protein and oil was found, whilst in Alzaga the adhesive was made up of a protein-containing material (likely glue) with lead white. The adhesives located in the juxtaposed applied brocades were thinner than the adhesives identified in the isolated applied brocades.

Filling mass

26Twelve differrent combinations of materials were characterized: 1. Protein (Zumaia); 2. Beeswax (Errenteria); 3. Lipid and red lead (Alzaga); 4. Beeswax with red lead and sometimes fibres (la Piedad, Oñati); 5. Beeswax and lead white, vermilion, azurite and red iron oxide (Zumaia); 6. Beeswax and lead white, carbon black, red iron oxide, quartz, soda-lime glass, red lead and azurite (Zumaia) (Fig. 1 Filling mass); 7. Oil and protein with gypsum (San Juan Bautista, Oñati); 8. Oil and protein with anhydrite and lead white (Alzaga); 9. Oil and protein with lead white and red iron oxide (Zumaia); 10. Protein and oil with anhydrite (San Juan Bautista, Oñati); 11. Protein with red iron oxide and gypsum (bottom layer) and protein and oil with gypsum (top layer) (la Santísima Trinidad, Oñati); 12. Protein with red iron oxide and calcium sulphate (bottom layer) and oil and protein with calcium sulphate, red iron oxide and vermilion (top layer) (la Santísima Trinidad, Oñati) (Fig. 2. Filling mass).The predominant organic components were beeswax and a combination of oil and protein.

Fig.1 Filling mass

Fig.1 Filling mass

Filling mass (between pairs of arrows) made up of one layer (150 µm) of beeswax mixed with lead white, carbon black, red iron oxide, quartz, soda-lime glass, red lead and azurite. Sample taken from a juxtaposed applied brocade of the triptych of San Antón, Zumaia.

Credits: Ainhoa Rodríguez-López.

Fig. 2 Filling Mass

Fig. 2 Filling Mass

Sample taken from a juxtaposed applied brocade of the triptych of San Antón, Zumaia, Oñati.

Credits: Ainhoa Rodríguez-López.

27Numerous filling masses contained, within the organic matrix, inorganic particles, such as: red lead, lead white, vermilion, azurite, red iron oxide, carbon black, quartz, soda-lime glass and calcium sulphate (both anhydrite and gypsum, but not mixed together). These were combined in a variety of mixtures with different organic phases resulting in a wide variety of filling mixtures as summarized above. The purpose of these pigments was to speed up the drying of these relatively thick masses and give them some colour.

28Most filling masses consisted of one layer up to 150 µm. The exceptions are the double-layer fillings discovered in the applied brocades of the altarpiece of la Santísima Trinidad, where each layer was maximum 40 µm thick.

Metallic leaves and mordant

29The metallic leaves that covered the filling usually consisted (from bottom to top) of tin leaf, mordant and gold leaf. The tin leaf of the juxtaposed and isolated applied brocades of the triptych of Errenteria revealed a 55-135 µm thickness, surpassing with a big difference the 7-20 µm thickness of the tin leaf identified in the other five altarpieces. This outstanding variation may be due to a possible different type of tin used in Errenteria, which can differ in composition from the one employed in the other altarpieces, resulting in a very advanced state of deterioration. This difference can be explained by the possible Central European origin of the triptych of Errenteria.

30Mordants were made up of one, two and three layers. Oil was the only material characterized in the one-layer mordants (triptychs of Errenteria and Zumaia and altarpieces of San Juan Bautista and Alzaga). Double-layered mordants showed two combinations: Oil in the bottom and protein in the top (triptych of Zumaia and altarpiece of la Piedad), and oil or oil and protein in the bottom and lead white with occasional earth pigments mixed with oil and protein in the top (triptych of Zumaia). Very few samples revealed a three-layer mordant made up of oil and protein in the bottom, lead white, earth pigments, quartz, vermilion and carbon black mixed with oil and protein in the middle, and oil in the top (triptych of Zumaia).

31Matte gold leaf of <1-2 µm in thickness was observed covering the tin leaf. Some applied brocades from the triptych of Errenteria and the altarpieces of la Piedad and la Santísima Trinidad showed double-gold leaf.

Paint and glaze

32White, red, blue, green and black opaque paints and glazes were identified covering the flat areas to stand out the relief of the brocade designs. The opaque paints showed lead white, earth pigments, organic red, azurite, carbon black, soda-lime glass and vermilion mixed with a protein-based material, oil or oil and protein. The glazes showed organic red dye and copper-based green mixed with either protein or oil. Most juxtaposed applied brocades were decorated with opaque paints contrary to isolated applied brocades which almost always showed glazes to match the glazed background.

33The final colour layer (either opaque or transparent) on top of the flat gilded areas was usually made up of one coloured layer. However, two coloured layers were identified in the triptych of Zumaia and the altarpieces of Alzaga and la Santísima Trinidad.

34In the triptych of Zumaia and the altarpiece of Alzaga was identified the use of a double layer composed of an intense and opaque colour in the bottom (carbon black or vermilion) and a pale and sometimes thinner colour on the top (azurite -combined with carbon black beneath- or red glaze -combined with vermilion in the bottom-). The aim of this combination was the production of a visually intense colour.

35The gold leaf of the applied brocades of the altarpiece of la Santísima Trinidad was completely covered with paint: white or blue opaque paint was used on top of the flat areas and red glaze on top of the raised threads that form the brocade pattern. This resulted in one continuous two-coloured layer. The edges of the robes (sleeves, neck and hems) were also decorated with a thin black line over the white and red glazed layer resulting in two layers that combined three different colours.

Designs of applied brocade in the Basque Country

36The wide range of motifs in applied brocade emerged directly from the luxurious brocaded fabrics of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Applied brocade motifs exist in two typologies: juxtaposed and isolated. A total of 27 juxtaposed brocade designs and 46 isolated brocade designs have been registered amongst the applied brocade decorations of the 16 altarpieces studied in the Basque Country. In some cases, the poor condition state of the examples found has resulted in failure to recognize the designs.

37Juxtaposed applied brocade imitates fabrics with uniform decoration. To achieve this uniformity, the technique employs several pieces of brocade with the same design, typically in a square or rectangular pattern, which are then juxtaposed to create a continuous decoration. Plants are the most common design theme, in particular leaves, flowers and sometimes even fruit. These are combined to create simple or more complex compositions forming symmetrical patterns around a vertical axis (triptych of Zumaia and altarpieces of la Santísima Trinidad, Markina-Xemein, Arrieta, Lekeitio, Nuestra Señora de la Encina, Aspuru and Olano). Another pattern is the combination of plant and animal designs. The most complex compositions are grouped under the motif category known as candelieri-grutesco that consists of vegetable branches in zigzag with winding leaves, which create a network inside of which imaginary figures such as sea monsters are interwoven (triptych of Zumaia and altarpieces of Arrieta, Lekeitio and San Vicente de Arana). (Fig. 3. Candelierio-grutesco design).

Fig. 3 Candelieri-grutesco design

Fig. 3 Candelieri-grutesco design

Candelieri-grutesco motif of a juxtaposed applied brocade from the triptych of San Antón, Zumaia. The same design has been also found in the main altarpiece of la Asunción de Nuestra Señora, Lekeitio and the main altarpiece of San Martín Obispo, Arrieta.

Credits: Ainhoa Rodríguez-López.

38Juxtaposed brocades with geometric pattern are also common. Sometimes, plant designs are included in geometric decorations (altarpieces of Lekeitio, el Santo Cristo, Nuestra Señora de la Encina and Fontecha). Isolated applied brocade imitates embroidery appliqués. Thus, the brocade pieces are placed at random over the surface creating a spattered pattern of applied brocades, which repeat the same design or combine different ones. Many isolated applied brocades show a plant theme. There are simple patterns of leaves or flowers with variations in the number of petals or complex and intricate outlines with pomegranates and foliage (triptychs of Errenteria and Zumaia and altarpieces of la Piedad, San Juan Bautista, Markina-Xemein, Lekeitio, Nuestra Señora de la Encina, Delika and Fontecha) (Fig. 4. Plant design).

Fig. 4 Plant design

Fig. 4 Plant design

Plant motif of an isolated applied brocade from the triptych of la Asunción-Coronación de la Virgen, Errenteria.

Credits: Ainhoa Rodríguez-López.

39Stars also are used as a decorative element and have only been detected in the altarpieces of Delika and Olano, Araba. Sometimes, isolated applied brocades are partial motifs extracted from juxtaposed applied brocade pieces as is observed in the altarpieces of Nuestra Señora de la Encina and Delika, Araba.

Conclusion

40A significant number of combinations of materials of the technique within Gipuzkoa have been characterized and classified. A group of 73 designs have been registered amongst 16 altarpieces of the 23 altarpieces with applied brocade located in the Basque Country. This catalogue of designs is being decisive toward the finding of repeated juxtaposed patterns, their possible dispersal and workshop connections within the central part of Northern Spain, particularly the Basque Country and Burgos. In general terms, both the materials and the designs agree with the specialized documentation.

41The few thorough publications on the subject in Spain along with the revealing data provided by our latest studies, point out a following stage of research that includes a more detailed analysis of the technique in the already studied altarpieces and the remaining ones sited in Bizkaia and Araba. These two provinces, in addition to Burgos and Palencia, comprise the higher number of artworks with applied brocade. The analysis would imply a methodical study of the materials, layer structures and designs of the wide variety of applied brocades.

42Considering the results obtained up to the present and summarized in this contribution, such a broad study would very possibly provide a broaden knowledge of the materials, layering and patterns employed throughout the period of use of applied brocade in the Basque Country. This would assist in the definition of more stylistic and technical connections that result in more accurate attributions and better understanding of the dispersal of the technique in the Basque provinces and very probably in the nearby areas of Northern Spain where applied brocade was profusely used.

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Notes

1 Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzcoa. (PhD dissertation). University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, 2009, retrieved from https://addi.ehu.es/handle/10810/12421

2 Frinta Mojmír, S., “The use of wax for appliqué relief brocade on wooden statuary”, dans Studies in Conservation, 8 (4), 1963, p. 136-147.

3 Nadolny, J. M., The techniques and use of gilded relief decoration by northern European painters, c. 1200-1500, (PhD dissertation), University of London, 2000.

4 Rodríguez López, A., Bazeta Gobantes, F., “El brocado de estaño en relieve aplicado. Evolución histórica y material en la Europa medieval con atención al arte español (siglos XV-XVI), dans Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 44 (2), 2014, p. 945-981.

5 González López, M. J., “Brocado aplicado: fuentes escritas, materiales y técnicas de ejecución,” dans PH Boletín del Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico, 8 (31), 2000, p. 67-77; Cantos Martínez, O., “Restauración del retablo mayor de la iglesia de San Miguel de los Navarros (Zaragoza). Recuperación de los brocados aplicados”, dans Sautuola: Revista del Instituto de Prehistoria y Arqueología Sautuola, 9, 2003, p. 483-508; Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzcoa. (PhD dissertation). University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, 2009, retrieved from https://addi.ehu.es/handle/10810/12421. Geelen, I., Steyaert, D., Imitation and Illusion. Applied Brocade in the Art of the Low Countries in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, Brussels, KIK/IRPA, 2011.

6 Serck-Dewaide, M., “The history and conservation of the surface coating on European gilded-wood objects”, dans Gilded wood: Conservation and history, Bigelow, D., Cornu, E., Landrey, G. J. & Van Horne, C., (Eds.), Madison, Connecticut, Sound View Press, 1991, p. 65-78

7 Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzcoa. (PhD dissertation). University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, 2009, retrieved from https://addi.ehu.es/handle/10810/12421

8 Darrah, J. A., “White and golden tin foil in applied relief decoration: 1240-1530”, dans Looking through paintings: The study of painting techniques and materials in support of art historical research, Hermens, E., (Ed.), London, Archetype Publications, 1998, p. 49-79.

9 Serck-Dewaide, M., “The history and conservation of the surface coating on European gilded-wood objects”, dans Gilded wood: Conservation and history, Bigelow, D., Cornu, E., Landrey, G. J. & Van Horne, C., (Eds.), Madison, Connecticut, Sound View Press, 1991.

10 Estrade Alda, M. M., “El brocado aplicado, una técnica insólita empleada en el retablo de Santa María de Galdakao (Bizkaia”, In VII Congreso de Conservación de Bienes Culturales: Actas del congreso celebrado en Bilbao los días 23, 24 y 25 de setiembre de 1988, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Servicio Central de Publicaciones del Gobierno Vasco, 1991, p. 126-136.

11 Arrazola, M.A., Martiarena, X., Barrio, M., Berasain, I., Larrañaga, I. Okaranza, R., Bidaurretako erretaula errenazentista: zaharberritzea/Retablo renacentista de Bidaurreta: restauración, San Sebastián, Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa, 1991.

12 For a detailed bibliography on Spanish cases go to Rodríguez López, A., Bazeta Gobantes, F., “El brocado de estaño en relieve aplicado. Evolución histórica y material en la Europa medieval con atención al arte español (siglos XV-XVI), dans Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 44 (2), 2014, p. 945-981

13 Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzcoa. (PhD dissertation). University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, 2009, retrieved from https://addi.ehu.es/handle/10810/12421

14 Roberto Amieva, M. A., El brocado aplicado en Aragón. Fuentes, tipologías y aspectos técnicos. (PhD dissertation), University of Seville, 2013.

15 Nadolny, J. M., The techniques and use of gilded relief decoration by northern European painters, c. 1200-1500, (PhD dissertation), University of London, 2000.

16 González López, M. J., “Brocado aplicado: fuentes escritas, materiales y técnicas de ejecución,” dans PH Boletín del Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico, 8 (31), 2000, p. 67-77; Gómez Espinosa, T., “Policromía del gótico final. Retablo mayor de la catedral de Toledo y obras burgalesas de Gil Siloe”, dans Actas del Congreso Internacional sobre Gil Siloe y la Escultura de su época: Burgos, 13-16 octubre de 1999, Centro Cultural “Casa del Cordón, Burgos, Institución Fernán González and Academia Burgense de Historia y Bellas Artes, 2001.

17 García Ramos, R., Ruiz de Arcaute Martínez, E., “Aproximación al brocado aplicado en España: Desarrollo y extensión”, dans XI Congreso de Conservación y Restauración de Bienes Culturales: Castellón, 3, 4, 5 y 6 de Octubre de 1996, Castellón, Diputación Provincial de Castellón, 1996, p. 747-756.

18 Echeverría Goñi, P. L., Retablos. Euskadi. Catálogos del Centro de Patrimonio Cultural Vasco, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Servicio Central de Publicaciones del Gobierno Vasco, 2001.

19 Gómez Espinosa, T., “Policromía del gótico final. Retablo mayor de la catedral de Toledo y obras burgalesas de Gil Siloe”, dans Actas del Congreso Internacional sobre Gil Siloe y la Escultura de su época: Burgos, 13-16 octubre de 1999, Centro Cultural “Casa del Cordón, Burgos, Institución Fernán González and Academia Burgense de Historia y Bellas Artes, 2001, p. 573-582.

20 García Ramos, R., Ruiz de Arcaute Martínez, E., “Aproximación al brocado aplicado en España: Desarrollo y extensión”, dans XI Congreso de Conservación y Restauración de Bienes Culturales: Castellón, 3, 4, 5 y 6 de Octubre de 1996, Castellón, Diputación Provincial de Castellón, 1996, p. 747-756.

21 Echeverría Goñi, P. L., Retablos. Euskadi. Catálogos del Centro de Patrimonio Cultural Vasco, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Servicio Central de Publicaciones del Gobierno Vasco, 2001.

22 Rodriguez López, A., Análisis y clasificación de los brocados aplicados de los retablos de Guipúzcoa. (PhD dissertation). University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, 2009, retrieved from https://addi.ehu.es/handle/10810/12421; Rodríguez López, A., Bazeta Gobantes, F., “El brocado de estaño en relieve aplicado. Evolución histórica y material en la Europa medieval con atención al arte español (siglos XV-XVI), dans Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 44 (2), 2014, p. 945-981.

23 Echeverría Goñi, P. L., Retablos. Euskadi. Catálogos del Centro de Patrimonio Cultural Vasco, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Servicio Central de Publicaciones del Gobierno Vasco, 2001 ; Muñiz Petralanda, J., Reflejos de Flandes. La escultura mueble Tardogótica en Bizkaia. Bilbao, Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro, 2011.

24 Echeverría Goñi, P. L., Retablos. Euskadi. Catálogos del Centro de Patrimonio Cultural Vasco, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Servicio Central de Publicaciones del Gobierno Vasco, 2001.

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List of illustrations

Title Fig.1 Filling mass
Caption Filling mass (between pairs of arrows) made up of one layer (150 µm) of beeswax mixed with lead white, carbon black, red iron oxide, quartz, soda-lime glass, red lead and azurite. Sample taken from a juxtaposed applied brocade of the triptych of San Antón, Zumaia.
Credits Credits: Ainhoa Rodríguez-López.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/7208/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 245k
Title Fig. 2 Filling Mass
Caption Sample taken from a juxtaposed applied brocade of the triptych of San Antón, Zumaia, Oñati.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/7208/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 136k
Title Fig. 3 Candelieri-grutesco design
Caption Candelieri-grutesco motif of a juxtaposed applied brocade from the triptych of San Antón, Zumaia. The same design has been also found in the main altarpiece of la Asunción de Nuestra Señora, Lekeitio and the main altarpiece of San Martín Obispo, Arrieta.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/7208/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 962k
Title Fig. 4 Plant design
Caption Plant motif of an isolated applied brocade from the triptych of la Asunción-Coronación de la Virgen, Errenteria.
Credits Credits: Ainhoa Rodríguez-López.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/7208/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 596k
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References

Electronic reference

Ainhoa Rodríguez-López and Fernando Bazeta Gobantes, Applied brocade in SpainCeROArt [Online], HS | 2021, Online since 15 March 2021, connection on 11 April 2021. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/7208; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/ceroart.7208

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About the authors

Ainhoa Rodríguez-López

Ainhoa Rodríguez-López gained a European PhD (2009) in Art Conservation from the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU. She earned a 2-year scholarship from the City Council of Gipuzkoa, Spain, a Fulbright Fellowship and a pre- and post-doctoral scholarship from the Basque Government. At present she is Associate Professor at the UPV/EHU. She has conducted and collaborated in many projects of investigation and conservation and is author of a significant number of publications. (ainhoa.rodriguez@ehu.eus)

Fernando Bazeta Gobantes

Fernando Bazeta Gobantes obtained a PhD (1996) in Restoration and Conservation of Cultural Heritage from the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU. He is Senior Lecturer in Art History and Art Conservation Bachelor’s Degrees at the UPV/EHU. Since the year 1996 has carried out different researches related to the Prehistoric Cultural Heritage in natural sites around Biscay. (fernando.bazeta@ehu.eus)

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
CeROArt – Conservation, exposition, restauration d'objets d'arts est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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