Mudejar art – Concept, Exponents and Types

Mudéjar is a term used to refer to the Muslim population that remained in Christian territory after the advance of the Reconquest, preserving its religion and its own rich culture.

Mudejar art is considered to be an artistic style that was developed in the different Christian kingdoms that the Iberian peninsula had at that time, that is, this kind of art is the development of the different coexistence that existed in Spain between the 12th century and XVI. This art combined different currents of art among which we can highlight: Gothic, Renaissance and Romanesque, in addition to several Muslim currents. Therefore, this style of art is not considered unitary since it has different influences, depending on the region in which it was. For this reason we can highlight the Leonese, Andalusian, Toledo and Aragonese Mudejar.

In Mudejar art there are various opinions or ways of seeing it as art, as some historians see it as an epigone of Islamic art and others as a period of Christian art in which Islamic decoration appears. Despite these opinions, it cannot be said that it is a new artistic reality, neither Islamic nor Christian, but a product of “pairing”.

The architects of Mudejar art, vary as the reconquest progresses, thus there is a first Mozarabic mudejar, the result of the Duero repopulations in the 10th and 11th centuries and Moorish mudejar of the territories conquered in Al-Andalus from the 13th century onwards.

We can also distinguish between a popular mudejar that has continued over time beyond its historical moment in areas of the Peninsula such as Andalusia where the use of tiling or coffered ceilings lasted until well into the 20th century and a courtly mudejar, this The latter is the result of a policy of assimilation of certain Muslim forms in Christian architecture promoted by kings such as Pedro I with their Reales Alcázares de Sevilla or regents such as the Cisneros style in the change between the 15th and 16th centuries.

In Mudejar art, peculiar characteristics can be observed in each region, for which there are various foci. The most prominent are Castilla y León, Toledo, Aragón, Andalucía and Extremadura. The style spread, even reaching the Canary Islands, Portugal, and Latin America.

Types of Mudejar architecture

Mudejar civil architecture:  tspecial UVO development during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. As an example we have Los Reales Alcázares de Sevilla is the most important set, built on the remains of an Almohad palace. Its patios with a delicate and abundant decoration are famous. Civil architecture influenced other Sevillian palaces, such as the Casa de Pilatos and the Casa de las Dueñas, the palace-convent of Santa Clara, in Tordesillas, and those of the Alcázar de Segovia.

Mudejar military architecture:  There are also famous brick works in military architecture, such as Puerta del Sol, in Toledo, from the 14th century, and the Coca (Segovia) and la Mota castles, in Medina del Campo.

The minor arts:  The Mudejar culture was much more than architecture. Goldsmithing, ceramics, the textile industry, leather works, pottery, etc. are also important. which achieved great popularity.

The concept of “Mudejar art” was developed by Amador de los Ríos, who read a discourse on this same style in 1859. Since then until today this style of art has been called Mudejar. Possibly this art was the one that most represented Spain in the medieval period and the most curious thing that was not highlighted for being a great art but for being a person and very original art. We can distinguish different styles in different areas among which we highlight:

  • The Romanesque style of brick: this style can be seen especially in the cities of León, Ávila, Segovia and Valladolid.
  • Western Mudejar style : This style can be seen from the Tagus River to Portugal.
  • Aragonese Mudejar style : this style had its own peculiar characteristics. We can find it in Jalón, Jiloca and the Ebro valleys.
  • Mudejar art can also be seen: in Extremadura, in Andalusia (especially in Córdoba and Seville), in addition to the Valencian community. Although obviously this style of art can be seen in other cities in Spain.

 

Some keys to this art

  • The success of this artistic style is given by the fascination of Christians for Islamic art, the mastery of Mudejar alarifes, the economy of style and the decline of the influence of French art.
  • It is an art style that has several peculiar characteristics in each region, among which the Toledo Mudejar, Leon, Aragonese and Andalusian stand out. This diversity is due to the chronological factor of the Christian conquest of the Al-Andalus territory.
  • The consecration as fortresses and cathedrals of the primitive mosques after the Christian conquest of the Muslim territories led to the creation of new buildings such as palaces and temples that maintained that mixed character typical of the Mudejar, giving rise to original buildings where the Romanesque, Gothic, the Renaissance and the Baroque, which were fused with the Islamic heritage.
  • Brick and plaster walls, horseshoe arches, wooden roofs, tile floors, etc. They were thus combined with the successive western architectural languages ​​to leave their peculiar lesson of coexistence and mutual learning.

Main characteristics of this type of art

  • It is present in churches, palaces, castles, walls, etc. They use the alfizes, the lobed arches, and in the synagogues, since the Jews used Muslim art. They are similar in structure to Christian and Islamic temples, and lack human figurative motifs, using large inscriptions on their walls.
  • The mudejar art is a unique artistic style of the Iberian Peninsula.
  • A largely functional art characterized by the use of inexpensive materials such as brick, plaster, ceramic and wood in highly versatile work systems.
  • It is perfectly adapted to the development of artistic forms dominated by the essential importance given to the decorative elements, often repetitive, without defined spatial limits, occupying the entire ornamental surface by means of criss-cross arched cloths called “sebka”, geometric compositions with lacework and stars, use of glazed ceramics, stylized plant elements.
  • Its main characteristic is eclecticism, a mixture of elements of Spanish-Muslim architecture with Christian architecture, whether Romanesque or Gothic.
  • The abundant Islamic decoration conceals the poverty of the material: blind arches, imposts, diamond network ( sebka ), subsidence, chess, fishbone … and other imaginative and diverse combinations with brick.
  • The constructions in the Mudejar art were in the hands of Mudejar alarifes who were cheap and qualified labor, although they were also later made by the Christians themselves.
  • The Mudejar found its maximum expression in architecture, generally religious buildings, although civil buildings were also made.
  • The plan of most of the churches is rectangular with one or three naves, with a semicircular apse covered with a quarter sphere vault, which are covered with flat roofing or pair and knuckle armor. There is usually a tower on the transept or on one side, decorated with blind arches that, when ascending, become openings.

Romanesque-Mudéjar: the first Mudejar constructions date from the second half of the 12th century.
It occurs in León and in both Castillas. The city of Toledo stands out, where old mosques are converted into churches, with monuments such as Santiago del Arrabal, with an exempt tower, in the Italian Romanesque style. In  Castilla y León  another important regional variant of the Mudejar is developed, the so-called “ Castilian-Mudejar Mudejar ” or “ Romanesque brick». The best examples are in the provinces of Valladolid (San Miguel, de Olmedo), Ávila (Arévalo, Madrigal de las Altas Torres) and Segovia (San Andrés and San Esteban, de Cuéllar, with an original decoration of blind arcades and above boxes, and Coca). This style is spread to the west (Zamora – San Lorenzo, de Toro- and Salamanca) and to the south of the Central System (Guadalajara, Madrid).

Characteristics:

  •  Plants with one and three naves, with brick pillars.
  •  Semicircular vaulted apses with simple roofs.
  •  Exterior decoration of 1/2 point folded arches in the headboards, in 2 or 3 bodies alternated with rectangles.
  •  Tower on the head and, sometimes, on the cruise.

Gothic-Mudéjar:  It is the most important period of Mudejar architecture in Spain, from the 13th to the 15th century. The place where this style occurs most is in Toledo, as an example we have the church of Santiago del Arrabal, with doors with an ornamentation based on angled horseshoe arches, towers with abundant decoration. We also have as an example the Jewish synagogues of Toledo, such as that of Santa Maria la Blanca, with an Almohad influence, and that of El Tránsito, with a Nasrid influence.

This style also occurs in Aragon, with great originality and its original and slender church steeple towers, similar to the Muslim minarets and with Italian influence, such as the square towers of San Martín and El Salvador, in Teruel and the octagonal towers of Tauste , Calatayud and Utebo, among others, and famous we also have the Parroquieta de La Seo, in Zaragoza, and the cathedrals of Tarazona and Teruel, with rich coffered ceilings.

In Andalusia, the Mudejar is later, highlighting the churches of San Pablo and San Miguel and the Royal Chapel of the mosque in Córdoba and in Extremadura we must mention the cloister and the facade of the Guadalupe monastery and the Alcázar of Seville.

Characteristics:

  • Brick and Muslim decoration are combined with Gothic shapes and typologies.
  • Scarce exterior decoration, in contrast to the rich interior decoration.
  • The Nasrid influence is evident, with grand ribbed vaults.
  • With a baroque brick decoration and the use of glazed ceramic

 

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