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During the 1500s the church and monarchy in Spain were the primary patron of artists. Painters were expected to create works that were in keeping with church doctrine. Paintings were also used to instruct illiterate people and help them understand Biblical stories and concepts. One of the most important influences upon early Spanish painters was their belief that the Virgin Mary, Jesus and other holy spirits guided them in their studios. Most studios had a small alter for frequent prayer and holy guidance.
The Spanish Inquisitors regularly inspected artists work to make sure they did not contain any devilish influences. If a painter was found to be a bit free spirited in his interpretation of the scriptures he would almost certainly find himself accused of being a heretic or apostate. Once accused the artist was subject to horrifying tortures until he confessed his sins. One of the favored tortures especially reserved for artists was to have their eyes slowly burned out with a hot poker so they could no longer ply their trade. Some were burned at the stake.
The Greatest Spanish Painters
According to Art Historian "Spanish painting had its birth during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, and may be said to have been derived from Italy, through the influence of the Italian painters who went to Spain, and the Spanish artists who made their studies in Italy. But in spite of this strong Italian influence Spanish painting has its own characteristics which separate it from all other schools, and give it a high position on its own merits."
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