Room of the Kings in the Alhambra

PAINTINGS OF THE ROOM OF THE KINGS

ALHAMBRA

The paintings of the Hall of the Kings have been restored very recently and just opened at the end of August 2018, in a long and expensive intervention: just over 10 years and a budget of more than 3 million euros.

The leather paintings were made under the reign of Sultan Muhammad V in the mid-fourteenth century and are in one of the rooms of the famous Patio de los Leones, the so-called Hall of the Kings.

It was a place of rest, gatherings and parties, since it is located in the heart of the palatine area, in a private environment where festive celebrations of the Nasrid court would take place.

The room, in its elongated dimensions, is derived in its frontal area in 3 small bedrooms, whose covering are the famous paintings, each of them of about 15 meters.

Certainly we lack documentation that tells us what is represented here, as well as its authors.

However, the experts show us a Christian hand author, although knowledgeable of the Muslim world.

These paintings of the Hall of Kings on leather are unique in the world, both for the technique used and for the description of scenes, since two of them represent court scenes and even a challenge between knights, one Christian, the other Muslim, challenging each other by love and by the hand of a maiden.

We can even interpret them as a small story that begins in the painting on the left bottom, having its outcome in the last painting on the right.

The central painting always captures the attentive look of the visitor, is the most representative of all. It shows 10 illustrious characters, which could be 10 sultans of the Nasrid dynasty or 10 important figures of the court, since they are dressed in turbans and even with the jineta sword, which is the maximum symbol of distinction and dignity.

The style of the paintings of the Hall of the Kings mixes Christian and Islamic techniques, since its style with the use of the line and the gold, is a typical technique in the linear Gothic style, especially in the Trecento painting and the features of the characters and their costumes are typical Florentine.

This is how Italian and Islamic aesthetics intermingle, showing the influence of the Toledo workshop as a result of the friendship existing between the Christian King Pedro I of Castile and the Muslim Sultan Muhammad V.

The intervention of the paintings has had several phases due to its complexity, and, in the first place, it was necessary to restore all the covers to repair the water leaks, which severely attacked the leather.

The fissures through which the water penetrated were aggravated after an intervention of the roofs in 1855 by Rafael Contreras. It has made a volumetric and chromatic reintegration of the 3 vaults, and has had a large multidisciplinary team composed of architects, restorers, chemists, biologists and art historians.

It has had an innovative technique of X-ray diffraction and RX fluorescence, which allows to identify pigments, repaints and previous restorations, which is a non-invasive technique, and with surprising results.

In addition, in this Room of the Kings, the leather has been stabilized and fixed, eliminating some old interventions of 1980, like elimination of waxes.

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