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Cardinal Ximenes answering the Grandees, of Spain, who questioned his authority

Richard Westall (1765-1836)


Signed and dated 1790

Watercolour with bodycolour

17 x 21 ¼ inches

Royal Academy of Arts, 1790, no 612, as 'Anecdote From The Cardinal Ximenes';
'Chris Beetles Summer Show 2024', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, June-September 2024, no 12

Engraved in Mezzotint by William Ward, published by John Raphael Smith, 14 May 1792.

Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, referred to in this scene as Cardinal Ximenes, was the Archbishop of Toldeo under Isabella I of Castile. He was known for his religious influence and strict reforms at the turn of the 16th century Spain. When Isabella died in 1504, the natural successor was her daughter Joanna. However, as ‘Joanna the Mad’ she was deemed unfit to rule Castile, leading to a regency dispute between her father and husband. Ximenes mediated the affair and introduced the Treaty of Villafáfila, allowing Joanna’s husband Philip I to hold the King’s title and Ferdinand, Joanna’s father, to act as co-regent.

A controversial figure at court, Ximenes was regularly challenged by others. Westall depicts Grandees, Spanish noblemen, questioning the Cardinal’s position in the dispute before the Treaty was established.

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