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Seville Cathedral: Chapel of the Virgin of La Antigua

Reredos of the Chapel of La Antigua

The enormous wrought-iron screen of this chapel was made by several artists in the course of thirty years. It was begun by the screen maker Juan López in 1565 following a design by Hernán Ruiz II and was finished by Rodrigo de Segovia in 1601. The stained-glass window illuminating the inside of the chapel dates from the end fo the 19C and represents San Fernando.


Originally the height of the chapel was the same as that of the others in the church, but in 1500 when Cardinal Diego Hurtado de Mendoza decided he would be burried there he ordered it to be raised and its width to be doubled. Today`s vault is a reconstruction of the original and was built by Diego Antonio Díaz in 1734. The Chapel centres on a reredos of coloured marble built in 1738 at the expense of Archbishop Don Luis de Salcedo y Azcona who also chose this chapel for his sepulchre. The design of the reredos is by Juan Fernández de Iglesias and its marble sculptures are by Pedro Duque Cornejo. In the centre there is a representation of The Virgin of La Antigua, a fresco that was painted on the wall of the former mosque at the end of the 14C when it was used by the Christians. The Gothic style of this work of art has much of its value because it was painted over so many times that it has changed its appearance. Most of these alterations occurred in the course of the 16C. The Virgin has a rose in her hand, while the Child has a bird; two angels hold a crown over the Virgin`s head. The crown is made of silver and dates from this century, from 1929 to be exact.

A painting of the Virgin of La Antigua

Above the crown, another angel holds a sign with the inscription Ecce Maria venit. At the Virgin`s feet there is a kneeling figure -very small in comparison- of a donor who can be identified as Doña Leonor de Alburquerque, Don Fernando de Antequera´s wife. According to tradition, he used to occupy the opposite side, but there are no traces of his image today.


The altar has a Rococo silver frontal dating from the end of the 18C; its centre shows The Virgin appearing to San Fernando. The silver frontal of the side table on the right of the altar dates from the same period. Most of the sixty silver lamps along the sides of the chapel also date from the 18C. Important as part of the furnishing of the Chapel are the 16C silver lecterns on the altar, which are ascribed to Francisco de Alfaro, and the chandelier, which is also of silver and of the same period, this time ascribed to Hernando de Ballesteros.

The sepulchre in the left-hand wall belongs to Cardinal Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. It was made in Genoa by the sculptor Domenico Fancelli who finished it in 1510 and travelled to Seville to assemble it where it stands today. The design is that of an arch in the wall with the sepulchre and the reclining figure of the deceased below. The small, well-carved decoration in the Plateresque style consists of the sculptures of saints and reliefs depicting subjects of the Gospel as wall as the coat of arms of the deceased. As a whole it is one of the most remarkable Renaissance works of art preserved in Spain.

In the right-hand wall of the chapel there is the sepulchre with the remains of the Archbishop Don Luis de Salcedo y Azcona. It was made between 1738 and 1740 by the sculptor Pedro Duque Cornejo who harmonized his design with the sepulchre of Don Hurtado de Mendoza by using the same architectural layout.

The walls of the chapel are covered with a series of paintings telling the story of The Virgin of La Antigua as well as several landscapes and the figures of saints. These paintings were executed by Domingo Martínez with the assistance of Andres Rubira between 1734 and 1738. In the upper part of the right-hand wall we find The Virgin appearing to the Muslims, in the middle The Transfer of the Image of the Virgin between San Leandro and San Laureano, and in the lower section there are The Venerable Contreras presenting redeemed Captives to the Virgin and four oval panels with the images of St Louis of France, St Louis of Tolosa, St Louis Gonzaga and St Louis Beltrán. Sor Maria de Agueda is found next to the main altar. In the upper part of the left-hand wall we find The Fall of the Wall of the Mosque which hid the Image of the Virgin; the middle section represents San Fernando`s Visit to the Virgin at Night, framed by San Carpóforo and San Isidoro. The bottom part shows San Diego de Alcalá healing the Sick, Christ healing the Blind as well as four oval panels with the pictures of San Fernando, Santa Florentina, San Hermenegildo and San Abundio. Beside the main altar there is a painting representing Doctor Scoto. Part of the paintings in this chapel was lost in a fire in 1889. They were replaced by others of the same subjects, but of little value.

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