Plateresque, meaning "in the manner of a silversmith" (plata being
silver in Spanish), was an artistic movement, especially
architectural, developed in
Spain and its territories, which appeared
between the late Gothic and early
Renaissance in the late 15th
century, and spread over the next two centuries. It is a modification
of Gothic spatial concepts and an eclectic blend of Mudéjar,
Flamboyant Gothic and Lombard decorative components, as well as
Renaissance elements of Tuscan origin.
Examples of this syncretism are the inclusion of shields and pinnacles
on facades, columns built in the
Renaissance neoclassical manner, and
facades divided into three parts (in
Renaissance architecture they are
divided into two). It reached its peak during the reign of Charles V,
Holy Roman Emperor, especially in Salamanca, but also flourished in
other such cities of the
Iberian Peninsula as León and
Burgos and in
the territory of New Spain, which is now Mexico.
Plateresque has been considered down to current times a Renaissance
style by many scholars. To others, it is its own style, and sometimes
receives the designation of Protorenaissance. Some even call it
Renaissance in a refusal to consider it as a style in itself,
but to distinguish it from non-Spanish
The style is characterized by ornate decorative facades covered with
floral designs, chandeliers, festoons, fantastic creatures and all
sorts of configurations. The spatial arrangement, however, is more
clearly Gothic-inspired. This fixation on specific parts and their
spacing, without structural changes of the Gothic pattern, causes it
to be often classified as simply a variation of
New Spain the
Plateresque acquired its own configuration, clinging
tightly to its
Mudéjar heritage and blending with Native American
In the 19th century with the rise of historicism, the Plateresque
architectural style was revived under the name of Monterrey Style.
2 Problems of geographical area and consideration as Style
3.1 Spanish Plateresque
3.2 American Plateresque
4.1 Isabelline Style (15th century)
Plateresque Gothic (late 15th century–1530)
4.4 Monterrey Style (19th century and first third of 20th century)
Plateresque architects and artists
Plateresque buildings, architectural elements, and other works
7 See also
Plateresque came from the silversmith trade. Diego Ortiz de
Zúñiga used it for the first time, applying it to the Royal Chapel
Cathedral of Seville
Cathedral of Seville in the 17th century.
Problems of geographical area and consideration as Style
Altar plateresque of the Cistercian monastery of Santa María del
Salvador, in Cañas (La Rioja)
Tomb of the Saint Juan de Ortega in the church of the convent of Santa
Plateresque has been considered a style exclusively
"Spanish", a term also applied to architecture in the Spanish
territories held by the Spanish Crown between the 15th and 17th
centuries. But by the mid-20th century this geographical connotation
was questioned under the arguments of several authors, especially
Camón Aznar (1945) and Rosenthal (1958), who defined Plateresque
generically as a unitary amalgam of elements – Gothic, Muslim,
and Renaissance. Aznar does not regard it as a style properly denoted
as Renaissance, and Rosenthal emphasizes its association with certain
buildings in other European countries, mainly France and Portugal, but
also Germany and others.
This problem highlights the imprecision of the name
the difficulties inherent in using it to describe productions from a
period of confusion and transition between styles, especially since
they are characterized by decorative profusion suggesting an attempt
to disguise the failure of Spanish architects to develop new
structural and spatial ideas. It has even been suggested that this
problem could be solved by identifying what is called
the replacement of Gothic decoration with grotesques inspired by the
works of the Italian Sebastiano Serlio.
Any persuasive argument, however, must admit that the
Protorenaissance was an artistic movement that responded to the
demands of the ruling classes of imperial Spain, which had just
Reconquista and begun the colonization of the Americas.
The Spanish were developing a consciousness of their growing power and
wealth, and in their exuberance launched a period of construction of
grand monuments to symbolize these with what are now considered
Plateresque facades, like those of altarpieces, were made as
carefully as if they were the works of goldsmiths, and decorated as
profusely. The decoration, although of various inspirations, was
mainly of plant motifs, but also had a profusion of medallions,
heraldic devices and animal figures, among others. Plateresque
utilized a wealth of materials: gold plates on crests and roofs,
vases, etc. There is evidence of more polychrome works at the
conclusion of the first third of the 16th century, when there appeared
heraldic crests of historical provenance and long balustrades, to
mention one kind of less busy decoration.
The proliferation of decoration for all architectural surfaces led to
the creation of new surfaces and subspaces, which were in turn
decorated profusely, such as niches and aediculas.
Italian elements were also being developed progressively as
decoration: rustications, classical capitals, Roman arches and
The decoration had specific meanings and can not be read as merely
decorative; thus laurels, military shields and horns-of-plenty were
placed in the houses of military personnel. In a similar vein, Greek
and Roman myths were depicted elsewhere to represent abstract humanist
ideals, so that the decorative became a means to express and
Plataresque implemented and preferred new spatial aspects, so
caustrales, or stairs of open boxes, made their appearance.
However, there were few spatial changes with respect to the Gothic
In America, especially in today's Mexico, various indigenous cultures
were in certain stages of development that can be considered Baroque
when the Spanish brought with them the
Plateresque style. This
European phenomenon mixed symbiotically with local traditions, so that
Gothic architecture was not built in America itself, but the
Plateresque mixed with Native American influences, soon evolving into
what came to be called American Baroque.
Plateresque style follows the line of Isabelline, where decorative
elements of Italianate origin combine with Iberian traditional
elements to form ornamental complexes that overlay the Gothic
structures. We can speak of
Plateresque that retains Gothic forms as a
basis until 1530. After that date, although it continued to be used
Plateresque ornaments were still evolving, it became part of an
architecture that was beginning to incorporate
Renaissance ideas. In
1563, with the start of construction of the monastery of San Lorenzo
de El Escorial, the
Renaissance architecture was purified through the
interventions of Juan de Herrera, which ended the splendor and spread
Plateresque in the Iberian Peninsula. But in
Mexico it was
not forgotten, leading to a
Neo-Plateresque style in the 18th century.
In any case the Plateresque, considered or not as a style, and whether
exclusively Spanish or more broadly European, represents the
transition between Gothic and
Isabelline Style (15th century)
Isabelline style and Manueline
In the 15th century a tendency to decorate with flamboyance began to
develop in the
Crown of Castile
Crown of Castile from Flemish, Islamic and Castilian
architecture, which received the name of
Isabelline Gothic because
most of the construction was done at the command of Isabella I of
Castile. These ornaments, which were of progressive complexity, did
not influence the internal structure of the buildings.
Something similar happened in the same period in Portugal, resulting
in what became known as the
Plateresque Gothic (late 15th century–1530)
A movement began in late 15th century
Spain to disguise Gothic
buildings with florid decoration, especially grotesques, but the
superficial application of this principle did not change the spatial
qualities or architectural structure of those buildings. This process
began when the
Renaissance arrived in
Spain and architects began
Renaissance architectural features without understanding the
new ideas behind them, that is, without letting go of medieval forms
Many of the
Plateresque buildings were already built, to which were
added only layers of
Renaissance ornamentation, especially around
openings (windows and doors), and in general, all non-architectural
elements, with some exceptions.
Although the appellation 'Plateresque' is usually applied to the act
of superimposing new
Renaissance elements on forms governed by
medieval guidelines in architecture, this trend is also seen in the
Spanish painting and sculpture of the time.
This is the period in which the
Renaissance had taken hold on the
Iberian Peninsula, although it had not yet reached its peak there.
That event occurred with the amendments by
Juan de Herrera and Philip
Spain to the design of the monastery of El Escorial, whose
construction began in 1563.
By that time the decoration, though still profuse, is completely
within Italianate parameters and applied to buildings designed
according to the logic of
Monterrey Style (19th century and first third of 20th century)
Palace of Monterrey
Facade of the City Hall of
Seville in the Plaza de San Francisco work
by Diego de Riaño
Main article: Monterrey style
The Monterrey style arose in the 19th century. It was named after the
Palace of Monterrey in Salamanca, which was built in a Neo-Plateresque
style, an historicism of the Plateresque.
The style survived until the early 20th century, featured in national
and regional 'revivals'. It spread widely, and though not accepted in
the critical circles of academia, some examples can be found on the
Gran Vía of Madrid.
Mexico there was also a new iteration of
Plateresque which spread
to the Southwestern United States, beginning in the first half of the
18th century. This Neo-plateresque is not to be confused with that
Spain at the end of 19th and early 20th centuries, the so-called
Plateresque architects and artists
Of First Plateresque.
Diego de Alcázar
Alonso de Covarrubias
Martín de Gainza
Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón
Gil de Siloé
Andrés de Vandelvira
Diego de Riaño
Vasco de la Zarza
Eduardo Adaro Magro
José López Sallaberry
Plateresque buildings, architectural elements, and other works
Convento de San Esteban
The facade of Convent of San Marcos (León).
The Tower of
El castle of the Calle Maqueda.
La facade of the University of Salamanca.
The Hospital of the Catholic Monarchs of Santiago de Compostela.
The facade of the New Cathedral of Salamanca.
The facade of the Convent of San Esteban of Salamanca.
The cloister of the Convent of las Dueñas of Salamanca.
The facade of the Church of Sancti Spiritus of Salamanca.
The Palace of Monterrey in Salamanca.
The facade of the Colegio Mayor de San Ildefonso, of the University of
Alcalá de Henares.
Casa de las Conchas
Casa de las Conchas of Salamanca.
The Convent of San Marcos of León.
The City Council of Seville.
The facade of Forgiveness and the balcony of the relics of the
Cathedral of Coria.
The Gate of la Pellejería of the Cathedral of Burgos.
The Hospital del Rey of Burgos.
The antecrypt and retrochoir of the Cathedral of Palencia.
The University of Oñati.
The Porta Maior of Viveiro.
The ironworks of the
Casa de Pilatos
Casa de Pilatos Seville.
The facade of the Church of Santo Tomás in Haro.
The pulpit of the Church of San Andrés Apóstol of Villanueva de los
The Main Entrance of the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor of Santo
Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The House of the Sun of the
Hearst Castle of San Simeon, California,
USA, based in the Spanish plateresque architecture.
The Administration Building at
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University which was
directly inspired by University of Alcalá.
The Velarde Palace in Santillana del Mar.
Rosary Cathedral in Toledo, Ohio.
The cloister of the Real Monasterio De San Zoilo, Carrión de los
California Building, Bertram Goodhue, architect, 1917
Spanish Colonial Revival architecture
Spanish Colonial Revival architecture style centuries later, it
was differentiated from the earlier and plainer Mission Revival style
with the additional refinement of
Plateresque and Churrigueresque
Bertram Goodhue and
Carleton Winslow Sr. studied Spanish
Colonial structures in
Mexico before designing the 1915
California Exposition in San Diego, California, that introduced
this style to the United States and subsequent widespread popularity.
Mexico there are other examples, such as the Palacio de Correos de
^ a b c Bozal, Valeriano;
Art history in Spain: From the origins to
the Enlightenment, pp. 157, 165. Ed Akal (1978).
^ a b c d e Arellano, Fernando; The Hispanic American Art, pp.
13–14. Ed. Universidad Católica Andrés (1988).
^ a b c Arias de Cossío, Ana María; The
Art of the Spanish
Renaissance, pp. 90–91. Ed. Encuentro (2009).
^ Marías, Fernando; The 16th century: Gothic and Renaissance, p. 24.
Ed. Silex Ediciones (2002). ISBN 978-84-7737-037-6.
^ a b Alonso Ruiz, Begoña; Late
Gothic architecture in Castile: los
Rasines, p. 23. Ed. University of Cantabria (2003).
^ Bendala Galán, Manuel; Manual of the Spanish art, p. 416. Ed. Silex
Ediciones (2003). ISBN 978-84-7737-099-4.
^ Bendala 2003, p. 739
^ Nieto Alcaide, Víctor Manuel; Morales, Alfredo José; Checa
Renaissance architecture in Spain, 1488–1599, p.
60. Ed. Cátedra (1989). ISBN 978-84-376-0830-3.
^ a b Bassegoda Nonell, Juan; History of the architecture, p. 224
^ Quesada Marco, Sebastián; Dictionary of Spanish culture and
civilization, p. 64. Ed. Akal (1997). ISBN 978-84-7090-305-2.
^ a b c Ávila, Ana; Images and symbols in the Spanish painted
architecture (1470–1560), pp 80–83. Ed. Anthropos (1993).
^ Amorós, Andrés, y Camarero, Manuel; Annotated Anthology of the
Spanish literature: history and texts: 16th century, p. 183. Ed.
Castalia (2006). ISBN 978-84-9740-125-8.
^ a b Marías, Fernando; El siglo XVU: Gothic and Renaissance, p. 163.
Ed. Silex Ediciones (1992). ISBN 978-84-7737-037-6.
^ Carpentier, Alejo; Márquez Rodríguez, Alexis; y García Carranza,
Araceli; Recovered steps: Essays of Theory and Literary Criticism, p.
37. Ed. Fundación Biblioteca Ayacucho (2003).
^ Navascués Palacio, Pedro, y Alonso Pereira, José Ramón; La Gran
Vía de Madrid. Ed. Encuentro (2002). ISBN 978-84-7490-667-7.
^ Of San Antonio Gómez, Carlos; The
Madrid of the, 98: architecture
for a crisis. 1874–1918, p. 132. Ed. Community of Madrid, Ministry
of Education and Culture (1998). ISBN 978-84-451-1485-8.
^ Zuno Hernández, José Guadalupe; History of the arts in the Mexican
Revolution, vol. 2, p. 41. Ed. National Institute of Historical
Studies of the Mexican Revolution (1967).
^ Fernando Chueca Goitia; Ars Hispaniae:
Architecture of the 16th
century. Ed. Plus-Ultra (1953).
^ Camón Aznar, José; La arquitectura plateresca. Ed. Instituto Diego
^ a b c Aguado Bleye, Pedro, y
Alcázar Molina, Cayetano; Manual of
History of Spain: Christian Monarchs. House of Habsburg (1474–1700),
p. 1064. Ed. Espasa-Calpe (1963).
^ Soldevila, Ferrán; History of Spain, vol. 3. Ed. Ariel (1999).
^ Rivas Carmona, Jesús; The retrochoir of spanish cathedrals: a study
of an architectural typology, p. 93. Ed. Editum (1994).
^ Bozal, Valeriano; History of the
Art in Spain. From Goya to the
present day, p. 67. Ed. Akal (1991). ISBN 978-84-7090-027-3.
^ Bueno Fidel, María José;
Architecture and nationalism: Spanish
pabillions in the 19th century universal expositions, cap. 6. Ed.
University of Málaga and Colegio de Arquitectos (1987).
Architecture of Spain
Buildings and structures
Cantabrian defensive towers
Tallest buildings and structures
Andalusian White Towns
Corral de comedias
Spanish Colonial architect