Saturday, February 26, 2011

Juana la Loca

In his painting Juana la Loca, Spanish painter Francisco Pradilla Ortiz (1848-1921) told an epic story worthy of a best-selling novel or a Hollywood movie:

“It is chronicled that Juana, wife of Philip de Borgogne and mother of Charles the Fifth, being distractedly in love with her handsome husband—a reputed flirt—became possessed of a superhuman jealousy which over-balanced her intellect.

“Philip meantime ‘shuffles off the mortal coil,’ and his unhappy Queen Juana, in a frenzy of grief, insists on accompanying the corpse to its last resting place, situated at the furthest extremity of Spain, Granada—then the burial place of the royalties—being five hundred miles from Burgos, where Philip died.

“The route lay through a wild, uninhabited country, utterly impracticable to vehicles of any description, so that the Court, the prelates, nobles, and knights, who made up the funeral procession, had a long trudge, her Majesty leading, behind the coffin.

“The pathetic scene given us by the painter takes place at the close of a bitter December day when three months had already been passed on the road; footsore and perishing from cold, the Court mourners spied the walls of a convent, hailing the prospect of hospitality contained therein with delight.

“The Queen, who felt neither cold nor fatigue, acceded to the request of her people, and the bier was taken into the church of the convent, the Queen in close attendance on her treasure, when suddenly a shriek was heard from the horrified Queen, who screamed ‘Out, out of here this instant!’

“Her majesty had unwittingly come into the camp of the enemy. The inhabitants of the convent were not —as supposed — friars, but nuns.

“The spectral figure of the worn-out queen, in whose gaze, fixed upon the coffin, can be detected the wanderings of a mind shaken by the mad jealousy which still consumes her, the coffin itself, illuminated by the light of a miserable campfire, the smoke of which is utilized by the painter to detach the sombre centre-figure, the well-disposed groups which crouch around, half dead with exhaustion, who had been so ruthlessly deprived of a warm shelter by the unconscious cruelty of an afflicted woman, are all remarkably finely rendered.

“The dawning light which illumines feebly the dreary scene—including the obnoxious convent—all combine to render the painting a drama in all save in theatrical accessories and get-up.”
Quoted from International Studio, 1901.
Image from Wikipedia: Juana la Loca1877
Wikipedia on Francisco Pradilla Ortiz (teacher of Sorolla)


Gordon Napier said...

I love painting, and I love history. This sort of thing is right up my street, and the post was a bit of a treat, especially as I was unfamiliar with either the painting or the story. It's a great shame that the art world virtually banned the grand history painting genre. However this sort of imagery has more than an echo in the world of cinema.

escuderoimagine said...

Hi :)
Thanks for your blog, it´s very helper for all artist
I´m Spanish and I saw this in Museo del Prado in Madrid, and i said what the f... it´s really really great man.
If can see it "at natual" you would say the same ;)

PD (Big): What happened to us?, the spanish artists, now nobody knows about what to make this, painting in this way