Fundación Focus
<em>Velázquez Centre</em>

Velázquez Centre

Focus Foundation

Anonymous

View of Sevilla, c. 1660

Oil on canvas,

163 x 274 cm.

Fundación Fondo de Cultura de Sevilla

View of Sevilla, c. 1660

This Vista de Sevilla (‘View of Seville’) is regarded, along with another one held in the Museum of the Americas in Madrid, as one of the most important and grand works of its time. This painting perfectly encapsulates the amalgam of dreams, the melting pot of peoples and the movement of galleons and galleys that was Seville in the 17th Century. Historian Juan Miguel Serrera said, “The details tell more of a story than the overall picture”, providing a better vision than any other that has been preserved of a city that is pleasant to look at and to be seen, and which at that time served as a mirror for the whole world.

The city is seen from its west side, showing Triana and its pontoon bridge, and the main urban landmarks of the city, some of them in stereotypical form, such as the Giralda, the Cathedral and the Golden Tower, while others are depicted accurately, such as the ancient coracha pathway that linked the tower with the Silver Tower, and the buildings designed by the Milanese architect Vermondo Resta. These details may have been taken, like the overview itself, from an etching by Mathäus Merian (1593-1650) in the book Neuwe Archontologia cósmica… by Johan Ludwig Gottfried, as well as the vignette by Johannes Janssonius entitled Qvi non ha vista Sevillia non ha vista marravilla, dated 1617. So this is a vision that is not designed to be topographically accurate, but is instead more interested in reflecting the wealth of activities and social occupations in a city in constant movement, focusing on its commercial side and the seafaring life of its river, which so strongly typified the life of Seville’s inhabitants in the Golden Age.

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