The Sum of Virtues: Sovereignty and Salvation at the Cartuja de Miraflores

Thursday, 10 July 2014

17.00 - 18.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Woman in flowing robes seated on a throne
Detail of 'Fortitude' from the tomb of Juan II of Castile and Isabel of Portugal, carved by Gil de Siloe between 1489 and 1493 for the Cartuja de Miraflores, Burgos.

Speaker(s): Dr Ronda Kasl (Curator of Colonial Latin American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Tom Nickson

In 1442 Juan II of Castile gave the royal palace of Miraflores, near Burgos, to the Carthusian order and designated the new monastery as his burial place. Ten years later, and just two months before the king’s death, Miraflores burned to the ground. Construction of the royal monastery, which languished during the troubled reign of Enrique IV, resumed with some urgency after his half-sister, Isabel, consolidated her claim to the throne in 1476. Notwithstanding the queen’s pious motives, the decision to finish the project was not without political utility. As a dynastic monument, built in the aftermath of a civil war, Miraflores functions in an important sense as an assertion of Isabel’s legitimacy. The queen’s involvement intensified in 1486 as the monastic church neared completion and plans were commissioned from Gil de Siloe for the tombs of her parents and brother. Siloe’s alabaster tombs, finished by 1493, not only distinguish and exalt the queen’s lineage, they affirm the legitimacy of the Castilian monarchy itself. The tombs are marked by astounding formal and conceptual innovations that will be considered in light of the religious, commemorative, and political motives that animated Isabel’s efforts at Miraflores.

Ronda Kasl joined the staff of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as Curator of Latin American Art in July 2013. Previously, she was Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture before 1800 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Dr Kasl was educated at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and is a specialist in the art of Spain and Spanish America. Her dissertation, The Making of Hispano-Flemish Style: Art, Commerce, and Politics in Fifteenth-Century Castile, will be published by Brepols this year. During her twenty-year career she has curated numerous exhibitions, including Painting in Spain in the Age of Enlightenment: Goya and his Contemporaries (1997), Giovanni Bellini and the Art of Devotion (2004), Raphael’s Fornarina (2005) and, more recently, Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World (2009). She is co-author of the forthcoming catalogue of Spanish paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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