Images of Toys in Spanish Art (15th–19th Centuries): Iconographic Languages

Chapter

Abstract

Toy images reflect the material existence of objects in space at a specific period of time. However, they also have a remarkable symbolic potential, which is constantly evolving over the centuries, transmitting cultural messages from an iconographic language which needs to be interpreted. Regarding the Spanish context, the baseline studies on toys have only barely explored the semiotics of this object in the field of the visual arts. This chapter aims to shed light on this area as part of Hispanic culture. The establishment of a body of images, achieved through a lengthy survey of museums and private collections from around the world, allows us by its vastness (including over 850 paintings and graphic works) to identify some ‘modes’ of representation through plastic media categories and the types of languages related to them, throughout a period of approximately five centuries, from the fifteenth until the second half of the nineteenth century. Research traces, for the first time, a history of the appearance of the toy in Spanish paintings, trying to identify common elements belonging to European culture and specifically those that are characteristic of the Hispanic moral mentality. Finally, the question ‘What exactly did Spanish artists see in the child’s world that drew them to the ever-growing imaginary world of toys?’ is addressed.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Université Paris-XIIIParisFrance

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