An Antwerp artist at the Madrid court. Juan de la Corte and his "Flemish Trademark"

Abigail Newman, 28 September 2014

In the early 17th century Juan de la Corte journeyed as an immigrant from Antwerp to the court in Madrid to pursue his career as an artist there. As luck would have it, he arrived at a time when the Spanish public greatly admired the kind of art that he produced. Not only religious subjects but secular themes too had become more and more popular: the Spanish were particularly fond of landscapes, battle scenes on land and at sea, and architectural scenes, all of them genres that were associated with Flanders. De la Corte made these genres the basis of his artistic ‘trademark’. Before long, his paintings were hanging on the walls of numerous courtiers’ homes and even in a number of Spanish royal palaces. Possibly De la Corte clung too long to his pictorial trademark. In the course of his career, which spanned five decades, Spanish artistic tastes changed and De la Corte therefore had to weather several professional storms. Even so, the career and the oeuvre of this frequently overlooked artist provide a revealing prism through which to analyze the role of Flemish art in the changing tastes and trends in the art trade in 17th-century Madrid.