Juan de Herrera


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The most celebrated Spanish architectural practitioner of C16, he introduced an austere Classicism (known as éstilo desornamentado because of its bareness) to that country. In 1563 he became assistant to Juan Bautista de Toledo, and when the latter died Herrera rose to a position of eminence until in 1579 he was confirmed in his position as Architect to King Philip II (1556–98). Herrera's career was closely bound up with the building of the Royal Monastery, Palace, and Mausoleum of El Escorial, near Madrid, the plan of which is not unlike various reconstructions of the Temple of Solomon, especially that of the Jesuits Hieronymo Prado (1547–95) and Juan Bautista Villalpando (1552–1608), and has various astrological, magical, religious, geometrical, and symbolic allusions that cannot be discussed here. The form of the complex, with its grid-iron plan and four angle-towers, may be an allusion to the martyrdom of St Laurence: Pope Gregory XIII (1572–85) presented some of that Saint's melted fat to the King, and the Escorial Church is dedicated to St Laurence. Herrera's other Royal buildings include the completion of the Alcázar, Toledo (1585), work on the Palace at Aranjuez (1571–86) which has many of the Escorial motifs, the elegant Lonja (Exchange), Seville (1582–98), and part of the Cathedral of Valladolid (1585–97). The last, though incomplete when Herrera died, was widely copied, notably at Salamanca, Mexico City, Puebla, and Lima Cathedrals.

Chastel & Guillaume (1953);J. Curl (2001);Fraser Hibbard & Lewine (1967);Kubler (1982);Kubler & Soria (1959);Placzek (ed.) (1982);Ruiz de Arcaute (1936);Jane Turner (1996);Wilkinson-Zerner (1994)

Subjects: Architecture — Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).

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