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The Courtauld: ‘A Team Effort’: Architectural Drawing and Multimediality in Late-Medieval Spain

April 28, 2021 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Museo del Prado houses one of the most remarkable drawings of late-medieval Europe: a fifteenth-century view of the east end of San Juan de los Reyes, Toledo. Attributed to the church’s designer, Juan Guas (active 1453–1496), the drawing is unique for its representation of an interior perspective, populated by a wide-ranging decorative programme in different media, notably an altarpiece and stained glass.
Almost thirty years ago, one scholar described such decorative ‘density’ as the ‘team effort’ of the various artists responsible for each element of the design. Yet the drawing itself raises additional questions: What was its function? Why include such disparate furnishings? What does this object tell us about architecture, design and collaboration in late-medieval Spain? Exploring the tensions between the work’s form and content, this lecture will sharpen our historical and contemporary perspectives on the drawing, which served as a dynamic rhetorical object rather than an accurate construction record.
Costanza Beltrami is Departmental Lecturer in Medieval and Renaissance Art History at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on Gothic architecture in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, and on the coexistence, tension and transition between Gothic and Renaissance projects. She is particularly interested in the management and representation of buildings in accounts, letters, drawings, ornament prints and other media. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Networking the Gothic: Juan Guas in Fifteenth-Century Spain.