A similar instance may be quoted from a document of Cordova, published by Ramirez de Arellano in his relation of a visit to the monastery of San Jeronimo de Valparaiso. In the year 1607 Geronimo de la Cruz, a Cordovese silversmith, agreed with the prior of this monastery to make for the community a silver-gilt custodia. For this purpose he received from the prior, doubtless a man of parsimonious spirit and a boor in his appreciativeness of art, eight pairs of vinegar cruets, four of whose tops were missing; a silver-gilt chalice and its patine; a viril with two angels and four pieces on the crown of it; a small communion cup; some silver candlesticks; four spoons and a fork, also of silver; and a silver-gilt salt-cellar. The total value of these objects was 1826 reales; and all of them were tossed, in Ford's indignant phrase, into the "sacrilegious melting-pot," in order to provide material for the new custodia.
1 Gestoso, Diccionario de Artifices Sevillanos, vol. ii. p. 360.
Silver-Gilt Processional Cross (Made by Juan tie Arfe in 1592. Burgos Cathedral)
The gold and silver work of Christian Spain attained, throughout the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, a high degree of excellence (Plates xv., xvi., etc.). The best of it was made at Seville, Barcelona, Toledo, and Valla-dolid. Objects of great artistic worth were also produced at Burgos, Palencia, Leon, Cuenca, Cordova, and Salamanca. I have already mentioned some of the principal orfebreros of Barcelona. Juan Ruiz of Cordova, whom Juan de Arfe applauds as " the first silversmith who taught the way to do good work in Andalusia," was also, in this region, the first to turn the precious metals on the lathe. A famous silversmith of Seville was Diego de Vozmediano, whom we find living there in 1525. Toledo, too, could boast, among an army of distinguished gold and silver smiths (Riano gives the names of no fewer than seventy-seven), Cristobal de Ordas, Juan Rodriguez de Babria, and Pedro Hernandez, plateros, respectively, to Charles the Fifth, to Philip the Second, and to the queen-dowager of Portugal; and also the silversmith and engraver upon metals, Pedro Angel, whose praise is sung by Lope de Vega in the prologue to his auto called The Voyage of the Soul: -
"Yes hoy Pedro Angel un divino artifice con el buril en oro, plata, o cobre."
By far the greater part of all Toledo's gold and silver work was made for service in her mighty temple. Such were the statue of Saint Helen, presented by Philip the Second; the crown of the Virgen del Sagrario, wrought by Hernando de Carrion and Alejo de Montoya; the bracelets or ajorcas made for the image of the same Madonna by Julian Honrado; and the exquisite chests carved in 1569 and 1598 by Francisco Merino from designs by the two Vergaras, father and son, as reliquaries for the bones of San Eugenio and Santa Leocadia, patrons of this ancient capital.1 A magnificent silver lamp was also, in 1565, offered by the chapter of the cathedral to the church of Saint Denis in France, in gratitude for the surrender of the bones of San Eugenio to the city of his birth. These and other objects of Toledan gold and silver work are stated to be "worthy of comparison with the very best of what was then produced in Germany, Italy, and France." 1
1 A full description of these chests will be found in Cean Ber-mudez, vol. iii. pp. 135-137.
Baron Davillier also held a high opinion of the Spanish orfebreros of this time. After remarking that the Italian influence was powerful among the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, and more particularly for some fifty years at Barcelona, he says: "A cette epoque les platervs espagnols pouvaient rivaliser sans desavantage avec les Italiens, les Francais, les Flamands, et les Allemands."
The same authority also says that the Spanish plateros of this period were skilled enamellers on gold and silver, and quotes some entries from French inventories of the time in which we read of cups, salt-cellars, washing-basins, and other objects executed or enamelled "a la mode d'Espagne."2
As we have seen, the exodus of the Moriscos lost to Spain a great proportion of her total wealth, although, conjointly with this loss, new wealth flowed into her in marvellous abundance from the New World.1 Thus, the silver-mines of Potosi, discovered in 1545, sent over to the mother-country, between that year and 1633, no less than eight hundred and forty-five millions of pesos. And yet this mighty influx of new riches cannot be said, except in the artistic sense, to have enriched the nation. She had renounced the service of the most industrious and, in many instances, the most ingenious of her native craftsmen; while on the other hand the Christians, with but limited exceptions, were far too proud and far too indolent to set their hand to any form of manual exercise; just as (I much regret to add) a great proportion of them are this very day. Foreign artificers in consequence (particularly after the royal pragmatic of 1623 encouraging their immigration), attracted by the treasure fleets that anchored in the bay of Cadiz, came trooping into Spain and filled their pockets from the national purse, fashioning, in return for money which they husbanded and sent abroad, luxurious gold and silver objects that were merely destined to stagnate within her churches and cathedrals.
1 Rada y Delgado, in his reply to the Count of Cedillo's address in the Royal Academy of History. For particulars of the silver lamp, which was made by Marcos and Gonzalo Hernandez, Toledanos, and by Diego Davila, see Zarco del Valle, Documentos Ineditos para la Historia de las Bellas Artes en Espana, vol. lv. p. 580.
2 Recherches sur l'Orfevrerie en Espagne, pp. 61 et seq.