The Altarpiece of San Esteban Salamanca (José de Churriguera) was a grandiose altar made by José
Benito Churriguer, whose construction required more than four thousand pieces of wood,
inagurating the 18th-century Baroque architecture in Spain. It was designed in 1693 a, by Churriguera who had become famous in Salamanca in 1689 with his design of a huge catafalque for the funeral ceremony of Dona
Doña María Luisa de Borbón, Charles II's wife. José belonged to a family of Salamanca architects who
enriched their city with some very fine monuments.
The San Esteban altarpiece is the first example of the so 18th-century called Baroque style "entallador", which
obtains its effects from the rhythm of the decorated surface, supported by a robust, monumental
The work of José de Churriguera, crowning the head of the church, has six large twisted columns, covered with decorative foliage.
In the center there is a tabernacle conceived as a pavilion, flanked by a pair of columns on each side, and between those two columns at the edges stand niches that harbour the sculptures of St. Dominic of Guzmán and St. Francis of Assis, attributed to the designer of the altarpiece. Centered above there is a painting by Claudio Coello whose theme is the martyrdom of St. Stephen. Everything is covered with gold and richly decorated, resulting in one of the most monumental Spanish Baroque altarpieces.
We can fin it in the Convento de San Esteban is a Dominican monastery situated in the Square of the Council of Trent in the city of Salamanca.
Baroque architecture like to excite and draw the people's attention. These are the main Baroque features in this monument:
- The use of the curved line in both building structures and decoration. -Emphasizes the use of Solomonic columns, which are spiraling, and gives a sense of mobility. - The use of lighting effects in buildings through concave convex movement - The abundance of decoration and ornaments on the facades and interiors. - Riches of materials, especially in churches, to produce a sense of luxury Baroque architecture like to excite and draw the people's attention.
Born in Madrid in 1650. Jose Simon Churriguera and his sons José Benito, Joaquin and Alberto. were a family of architects and sculptors active in Castile during the 17th and 18th centuries. Churriguera Joseph Simon was born into a family of artists and where his son José Benito Churriguera, the chief sculptor and architect of the family, to which the name of
style 'churrigueresco' is due to be born applies to work performed by him and some of his brothers, in which recharging is essentially decorative and dominant over the supporting elements to the point of hiding them in some cases One of his first works was the altarpiece of the church in the Convent of San Esteban (Salamanca), whose structure would be inherited by the majority of Spanish churches. In 1687, he won the contest for making the catafalque for Queen Marie Louise of Orleans, wife of Charles II. In 1709 he began his most ambitious work, in the municipality of New Baztán in the east of Madrid
commissioned by the banker Juan de Goyeneche.
This urban work included a church, a palace, housing for the
workers, a factory, offices and an industrial glass oven. He died in Madrid in 1725.
Portrait of José de Churrigera