Spanish Art

Mannerism: Francisco Pacheco

Francisco Pacheco was a Spanish painter who is most famous for painting in the Mannerist and Early Baroque styles of art. Aside from his painting, Pacheco is also known for being the master and teacher of some of the most famous Baroque Spanish artists such as Velázquez and Cano.

Francisco Pacheco (1564-1664)

Spanish Art - Francisco Pacheco

Francisco Pacheco was born in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the Spanish province of Cádiz. It is known that he moved to Seville before the year of 1580 where his uncle was a monk at the Cathedral. Here, Pachecho worked as an apprentice for the little known Spanish painter Luis Fernández. In 1585, Francisco Pacheco had finished his apprenticeship and set up as a painter in a local street.

In January of 1594, Francisco Pacheco married his wife María Ruiz de Páramo. Following this, Francisco Pacheco began establishing a large clientele which consisted in members of the Upper Spanish classes such as the Spanish clergy, aristocracy and royalty.

Francisco Pacheco was a firm believer in the rights that a painter should be entitled to. Therefore, he often campaigned actively against certain laws and acts that impeded painters, such as the application of taxes to painters’ works. Some of his campaigning even led him to have a dispute with another famous Spanish artist, Juan Martínez Montañés.

Spanish Art - Francisco Pacheco

Pacheco continued to be the best painter in Seville during the first few years of the 17th Century. However, with the arrival of the Flemish painter, Juan de Roelas, Francisco Pacheco soon felt overshadowed. For this reason, Pachecho then travelled to Madrid for a year, visiting El Escorial and Toledo.

On his return in 1611, Francisco Pacheco took on a new apprentice named Diego Velázquez. Pacheco would become to be known as the master of Velázquez. Diego even married Pacheco’s daughter, Juana. It is thought also that it was thanks to Pacheco’s input that Velázquez met the Count-Duke of Olivares which helped set the wheels in motion of Velázquez’s career as a Royal Court painter. However, it is bizarre that although Velázquez was a student of Pacheco for many years, there is little to no trace of Pacheco’s influence in his work.

Francisco Pacheco’s teaching focused mainly on the accurate representations of Holy and religious figures. This was probably due to Pachecho’s involvement as an official censor of the Inquisition in Seville. Some of Pachecho’s paintings display the restrictions that the Inquisition imposed, such as the ‘Last Judgement’ which is an extremely large and monumental piece of work, yet the subject is painted very unimaginatively. Pachecho also received many commissions during this time which helped re-establish his fame in Seville. He also became popular among circles of poets as he was a great believer in Humanist values.

Spanish Art - Francisco Pacheco

Francisco Pacheco’s style has been classified as Mannerism but with a hint of Flemish and Italian art. Furthermore, unlike most artists, Pacheco’s style did not evolve significantly. His style only slightly shifted towards Realism. Pachecho was considered to be a brilliant drawer yet a modest painter.

Later, Francisco Pacheco came to write a book entitled ‘Libro de los retratos’ (Book of Paintings), a work which contained over seventy paintings complete with a small biography under each one. This work was kept safe in the Lázaro Galdiano Museum and the Library in the Royal Palace in Madrid. It was later published in 1884 by José María Asensio.

Following this, Pachecho wrote another book called ‘Arte de la pintura’ (Art of Painting) which was completed in 1641 and published in 1649. This book is still one of the best critical collections of Spanish Baroque art. Francisco Pacheco’s contribution to the academic study of art is certainly still felt today as his work helps define the dates of the many artistic movements around during his time.

© Spanish Arts 2011