6 November 2021

Walls, Tiepolo, and S James the Great (2)

Tiepolo ... or perhaps Mr Ambassador Richard Walls ... was tactful. There had, after all, been bellicose passages in the historical memories of relations between England and Spain. So, tactfully, S James is not here shown slaying Moors by the million (although if you look carefully between the horse's legs, you will see some old-fashioned bits of military mayhem). But the Saint, his eyes fixed on heaven, moves onwards. True, he carries a drawn sword. True, with that sword he gently bends the head of a kneeling, subjected, Moor. 

But the violence is past. The subjected Moor will rise as a Christian. The Spanish Empire, extensive and diverse, has purchased, not without a use of force, a peaceful and a Christian civilisation. I think that is what Tiepolo thought he was painting for the Chapel in London of the Spanish Ambassador.

Is the idea an unworthy one?

My second query: S James of Spain carries a banner. It appears to be white and to bear a red Cross.

You are perfectly aware that I am not an expert on Spanish (or Venetian) art. And negatives are always dodgy things to do business with. 

But I don't recall examples of what looks like the flag of S George of England being carried in a Hispanic military context.

What think ye?


Christophorus said...

This web site states:
According to the latest research, however, the painting was commissioned by the Spanish Ambassador to London and executed in Venice in 1749-50; it is true that the Venetian chronicler mentions a picture of St George on horseback, but it is not unlikely that an Italian, unfamiliar with Spanish legend, may have misidentified the subject.

Banshee said...

I think it's the Cross of St. James, albeit much simplified from the Order of Santiago's Santiago cross. And Santiago and Calatrava's military order crosses were both riffing on the Templar cross.

But yes, it's possible that Tiepolo was walking a line toward the St. George cross, and maybe trying to remind everybody that the English had once fought in Spain to help the Spanish.

Roger Sponge said...

I understand that one of St James’ hands (supposedly) is in a safe at St Peter’s, Catholic Church. Marlow. I

Percy said...

The cross of Santiago Matamoros is red on white: