Andalusia 1550-1700: Seville, Granada and Córdoba

During the early 1500s Seville became the commercial centre of the Spanish Empire. Unlike Madrid, it had no court to focus artistic activity and commissions came mainly from the church or private patrons.

It is difficult to form a clear picture of workshop practice in 16th-century Seville. It was not until the following century that the city became a centre of artistic production with artists like Francisco de Zurbarán and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo rising to great prominence. In 1660 Murillo and Francisco de Herrera the Younger established an academy of drawing in Seville. It operated for 14 years and taught many students, reinforcing drawing as the basis of artistic practice.

Other artists trained in Seville such as Diego Velázquez and Alonso Cano went on to have brilliant careers in the capital. Although their mobility makes it difficult to define regional styles, dominant figures such as Francisco Pacheco in Seville and Antonio del Castillo in Córdoba had a powerful influence on those who worked with them.