1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cespedes, Pablo de
CESPEDES (in Ital. Cedaspe), PABLO DE (1538–1608), Spanish poet, painter, sculptor and architect, was born at Cordova, and was educated at Alcalá de Henares, where he studied theology and Oriental languages. On leaving the university, he went to Rome, where he became the pupil and friend of Federigo Zuccaro, under whose direction he studied particularly the works of Raphael and of Michelangelo. In 1560, while yet in Rome, proceedings were taken against him by the Inquisition at Valladolid on account of a letter which, found among the papers of the archbishop of Toledo, had been written by Cespedes during the preceding year, and in which he had spoken with great freedom against the holy office and the inquisitor-general, Fernando de Valdés. Cespedes remained in Rome at this critical moment, and he appears rightly to have treated the prosecution with derision. It is not known how he contrived to bring the proceedings to an end; he returned, however, to Spain a little before 1577, and in that year was installed in a prebend of the cathedral at Cordova, where he resided till his death. Pablo de Cespedes has been called the most savant of Spanish artists. According to his friend Francisco Pacheco, to whom posterity is indebted for the preservation of all of Cespedes’s verse that is extant, the school of Seville owes to him its introduction to the practice of chiaroscuro. He was a bold and correct draughtsman, a skilful anatomist, a master of colour and composition; and the influence he exerted to the advantage of early Spanish art was considerable. Cristobal de Vera, Juan de Peñalosa and Zambrano were among his pupils. His best picture is a Last Supper at Cordova, but there are good examples of his work at Seville and at Madrid. Cespedes was author of several opuscules in prose on subjects connected with his profession. Of his poem on The Art of Painting enough was preserved by Pacheco to enable us to form an opinion of the whole. It is esteemed the best didactic verse in Spanish; and it has been compared, not disadvantageously, with the Georgics. It is written in strong and sonorous octaves, in the majestic declamatory vein of Fernando Herrera, and is not altogether so dull and lifeless as is most didactic verse. It contains a glowing eulogy of Michelangelo, and some excellent advice to young painters, insisting particularly on hard work and on the study of nature. The few fragments yet remaining, amounting in all to some six hundred lines, were first printed by Pacheco in his treatise Del arte de la pintura, in 1649.