The paintings of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Today has also been a very rainy day but the weather haven’t been able to wet our decision of visiting the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (about 50 km northwest of Madrid).

The Spanish king Philip II who reigned from 1554 to 1598 decided to build this wonderful bulding to commemorate his victory at the Battle of St. Quentin in Picardy against the French king Henry II in 1557. The complex includes a monastery, a royal palace, a museum, and a school and it’s one of the most interesting royal palaces which can be visited in Spain.

Portrait of Philip II (c. 1564)
Sofonisba Anguissola (1530-1625)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most interesting mathematical places inside the monastery is the library to which I want to dedicate a post written carefully:

The library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Source: (San Lorenzo de El Escorial)

It’s forbidden to take photos but I have bought a book with some pictures about the library and its ceiling which is full of mathematical allegories. For now, I’ll just mention two “mathematical” paintings which I’ve noticed.

The first one is one of the copies of the known Marinus van Reymerswaele’s The moneychanger and his wife (1538):

The moneychanger and his wife (1538)
Marinus van Reymerswaele (c.1490–c.1546)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The other is Federico Zuccardo’s Adoration of the Magi (1588):

The Adoration of the Magi (1588)
Federico Zuccardo

The reason why I can say that this painting is mathematical is the inscription below the throne of the Virgin:

Federicivs Zuccardvs

A.D. M D 88

We can see the date 1588 written in Roman and Arabic figures. Furthermore, the Roman figures are the former ⊂I⊃ I⊃ in spite of our M and D. Although the Museum of the Architecture and the Painting is not the most interesting part of the Royal Site, these two paintings deserve a detailed visit.

Location: San Lorenzo de El Escorial (map)


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