The Villaviciosa-chapel in the Mezquita
  • Eduard Gerhardt
  • Erfurt 1813 - 1888 Munich
  • The Villaviciosa-chapel in the Mezquita, 1858
  • Watercolour over pencil, on strong paper,
  • signed and dated lower right: Ed. Gerhardt / 1858.
    inscribed lower left: Die Capella d. Familie /
    Villaviciosa i. d. Cathedrale / in Cordóva
  • 439 × 328 mm
Private colletion Rhineland

In the 1850’s, Eduard Gerhardt succeeded Wilhelm Gail in the depiction of Spanish architecture. After 1840, the architect and painter, who had been trained in Cologne and Munich, undertook extended study journeys through northern Italy with his artist friend Friedrich Nerly (see cat. no 57). Two special exhibitions of Gerhardt’s impressions from these travels had such success in Munich (1845) and Berlin (1847), that King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia offered the young artist a travel grant to Spain and Portugal. In 1848, Gerhardt began his first journey to the Iberian Peninsula, which was to last for three years. During this time, he made myriad both naturalistic and idealising watercolours of the most important monuments of Moorish-Spanish architecture. After first presenting them in Berlin in 1852, the artist was able to sell most of these works to members of the European high aristocracy. Subsequently, he would rework many of the subjects he had drawn in painted versions, which themselves found places in important collections.

As early as the spring of 1854, Gerhardt began making plans for a second journey to Spain, for which he sought financing from, among others, the French Empress Eugénie1.

The present-day Capilla de Villaviciosa, named after the virgin of Villaviciosa, occupies a former prayer niche in the centre of the old mosque. Because the Christian appropriation of this space was limited to its furnishings, the chapel remains a compelling example of the most exquisite Islamic architecture.

  1. Anja Gebauer: Spanien – Reiseland deutscher Maler 1830-1870,
    Petersberg 1998, pp. 85-106