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Journal Articles Renaissance Studies Year : 2019

A palimpsest of ornaments: the art of Azulejo as a hybrid language


While scholarship has explored azulejo decoration of Iberian churches and palaces, the ornamental language used in ceramic tiles as a reflection of hybridisation in the early modern period deserves further scrutiny. Azulejo production is a useful means to study visual hybridity in the Iberian world. This article explores the azulejo as the expression of a hybrid language incorporating imported Italo‐Flemish patterns, which became interlinked with pre‐existing forms, including arabesques from the Mudéjar tradition. Differing motifs were combined to create new ornamental expressions, as seen for example in the Quinta da Bacalhoa, near Lisbon. The dynamic of the appropriation of a range of sources, such as Italo‐Flemish engravings, Indo‐Persian carpets and Oriental forms, created veritable ornamental palimpsests, reflecting an extraordinary dialogue across diverse arts and cultures. Western European models were combined with the sensibility and skills of local craftsmen in Asia and the Americas. The azulejos decorating the Church of Santa Monica in Goa are emblematic of this fusion. In the same way, the migration of Spanish tile makers to the New World, and their association with indigenous craftsmen there contributed to the emergence of original azulejo compositions, as seen in the cloister of the monastery of San Francisco in Lima.
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halshs-02482503 , version 1 (18-02-2020)



Céline Ventura Teixeira. A palimpsest of ornaments: the art of Azulejo as a hybrid language. Renaissance Studies, 2019, Visual and Spatial Hybridity in the Early Modern Iberian World, pp.1-32. ⟨10.1111/rest.12591⟩. ⟨halshs-02482503⟩
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