Domenico Fancelli, an Italian sculptor in Spain

Domenico Fancelli was an Italian sculptor who has gone down in history for being the introducer of the Renaissance aesthetic in sculpture in Spain. He is the author of some of the most beautiful examples of funerary sculptures in the country and his art is spread throughout the Spanish geography. Do you want to know where?

Who was Domenico Fancelli

He was born in Settignano, near Florence, in 1469. His training is still unknown, although it must have taken place between Florence and Rome. His talent must have been widely and well known, since the Count of Tendilla, don Iñigo López de Mendoza y Quiñones, would commission him to sculpt the cenotaph of his brother who died in 1502Don Diego de Mendoza, Archbishop of Seville.

That commission would be the one that opened the doors of Spain to Domenico Fancelli. This is so because, despite the fact that he made it in Genoa, the sepulcher was moved to Seville, where the sculptor himself would place it on the side of the chapel of the Virgen de la Antigua in Seville cathedral.

This commission would be followed by others, such as the trunk-pyramidal cenotaph of the infante don Juan de Aragón and the most spectacular of all: that of the Catholic Monarchs located in the Royal Chapel of Granada. Finally, Domenico died in Zaragoza in 1519, having to his credit being the introducer of the Renaissance in Spanish sculpture and a source of inspiration for other contemporary and later artists.

Tomb of Cardinal Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

This is the first commission that Domenico Fancelli had in Spain. The commission came from the Count of Tendilla, who frequently visited Italian lands as an ambassador to Pope Innocent VIII.

Conceived as an arcosolium, it is located on one of the side walls of the chapel of the Virgen de la Antigua in the cathedral of Seville and is carved in Carrara marble. The cardinal is reclining resting on a bed of smooth carvingsupported by corbels between which hang garlands.

To this is framed by two robust columns carved in its entirety. About Cardinal Fancelli he placed three scenes: Seated Madonna with Child, The resurrection Y Saint Anne teaching the Virgin to read. And above these scenes there is a frieze in which the portraits of the cardinal’s brothers stand out.

Tabernacle of the infant Don Juan de Aragón

Tabernacle of the Infante Don Juan – Selbymay / Wikimedia Commons

The heir to the Catholic Monarchs died at the age of 19. Ferdinand the Catholic commissioned the Italian sculptor to create a tomb for his son. For this he traveled to Granada where he made a portrait that he would take to Genoa to make the tabernacle, also in Carrara marble.

Completed at the end of 1512, the sculptor traveled back to Spain and installed it in the church of the Santo Tomás el Real monastery in Ávila. It has a truncated-pyramidal structure, the first of this category in Spain.. The taps in the corners and the tondos on the sides stand out.

Tomb of the Catholic Monarchs, the masterpiece of Domenico Fancelli

A year later he was commissioned to sculpt the cenotaph of the Catholic Monarchs for the transept of the Royal Chapel of Granada. There is evidence of the purchase of Carrara marble, 25 truckloads specifically. It is a work that would be completed in 1517, at which time he returned to Spain to place it in the right place, in front of the altar.

It would remain there until 1603, when it was moved to one side to make room for the sepulcher of Juana la Loca and Felipe el Hermoso, made by Bartolomé Ordoñez following the model of the previous one. In this sepulcher he further refined the forms and its texture is exquisite, the recumbent ones seem almost real.

At the bottom of the pyramid, Fancelli placed a tondo on each of the sides, among which stand out those who represent the baptism of christ Y the resurrection. And next to them, the apostles. In the corners, and following the model of the infante don Juan, the sculptor placed four griffins, the guardians of wealth.

On this body, he placed another with beautiful garlands and angels holding the shields of the kingdom. Y in the corners sculptures of the four doctors of the church: Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome and Saint Gregory the Great. In the upper part the kings are represented, who seem real, and at their feet are two small lions typical of the Spanish funerary tradition.

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