b Toledo, c. 1490; d Granada, 4 Aug 1550).
Spanish painter and architect. The form of his signature (Petrus Machuca, Hispanus. Toletanus) on his earliest known work, the Virgin of Succour (1517; Madrid, Prado), suggests he was active at an early age in Italy. On the basis of the style of that work, a number of frescoes in the Vatican have been attributed to him, including Isaiah Blessing Jacob. Other works from the same period that have been attributed to him include a copy (Paris, Louvre) of the destroyed Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci and two paintings of the Virgin and Child (Rome, Gal. Borghese, and Turin, Gal. Sabauda), some drawings and the original drawings for reproductive engravings by Marcantonio Raimondi and Agostino Veneziano
The uncertain nature of these attributions have made it difficult to follow Machuca's early development as an artist. At first linked by critics with Michelangelo, Raphael and Fra Bartolommeo, he has also been considered an exponent of Italian Mannerism of the 1510s (Longhi, 1953) along with such painters as Perino del Vaga, Correggio and Domenico Beccafumi. It is more likely that he was connected from 1515 to 1516 with Raphael's workshop, where he would have learnt composition and depiction of the human form. Machuca's interest in strong nocturnal effects and his sometimes exaggerated use of gesture and pose also indicate the influence of Leonardo da Vinci. His eclecticism, which made him receptive to the art of Rosso Fiorentino, Andrea del Sarto and Sebastiano del Piombo, makes his work rather impersonal, and yet he has a surprising continuity of form.
The short account of Machuca's life written between 1554 and 1564 by Lázaro de Velasco suggests that the painter returned to Spain with his father, Jacopo Florentino, c. 1520. He is mentioned that year in a contract for the altarpiece of Our Lady of Consolation (destr.) in Jaén Cathedral, and the following year in a contract for the altarpiece of the Holy Cross in the Royal Chapel in Granada, where the panels of the Agony in the Garden, the Taking of Christ and the Descent into Limbo are probably his. He settled in Granada, marrying Isabel de Horozco, who bore him seven children, the third of whom, Luis Machuca (1525-71), became an architect. From 1526 Pedro was also active as an architect, but he continued to work on altarpieces in Toledo, including those of St John the Evangelist and St Catharine in the Chapel of Old Kings in the cathedral, commissioned for Diego López de Ayala (c. 1480-1549), and at the monasteries at Uclés and Granada, most of which disappeared during the Revolt of Granada (1568-70). Among other identified works are certain panels of the altarpieces of Nostra Señora de la Encarnación, Monachil, Granada, S María la Mayor in Ubeda and, perhaps painted by his son after his drawings, that of the chapel of S Pedro de Osma in Jaén Cathedral (all 1540s). Other generally accepted works, of which the dating is uncertain, include Pentecost (Ponce, Mus. A.), the Descent from the Cross (c. 1547; Madrid, Prado), the Burial of Christ in the Franciscan monastery of Coria, Cáceres, and a triptych of the Virgin and Child, Adam and Eve and SS Sebastian and Roch (Madrid, priv. col., see Buendía, fig. 20). These works show little general stylistic change from his early work in Italy, as is apparent in the Descent from the Cross, which for a long time was thought to have been painted in Italy. A comparison between the preparatory drawing (Paris, Louvre, Cab. Dessins, Inv. 6303) and the completed work suggests that Machuca's Spanish patrons called for certain changes, including the addition of references to Michelangelo and to Dürer's engravings, greater accentuation of gesture, more extreme foreshortening, more precise descriptive detail and greater narrative expression.
A similar eclecticism and consistency are apparent in Machuca's few architectural works, which began in 1526 with his involvement in the ephemeral decorations for the entry of the Emperor Charles V and the Empress Isabella of Portugal into Granada. For example, his designs for the wall fountain, the Pilar of Charles V and the Puerta de las Granadas for the Alhambra of Granada are reminiscent of his most important work, the Palace of Charles V, also in the Alhambra, the design (either by himself or based on a drawing submitted by Giulio Romano) and direction of which occupied him almost exclusively between 1527 and 1550. In 1526 Machuca combined the preliminary planning of the palace with the decoration and renovation of the new rooms (quartos nuevos) of the 14th-century Nasrid Palace, for which he designed a mantelpiece and three ceilings coffered in the Italian style (1528-33). The laying of the foundations of the new palace began in 1533, and when he died Machuca had completed the basic structure of the ground-plan, including the two finest and most stately façades, at the south and west, the east doorway (?1548), the crypt and body of the octagonal chapel (1538-50) and the foundations of the circular courtyard colonnade (1540; see fig.). His son Luis continued the courtyard, making only a few modifications (1556-68), and built the arcade of Doric columns (1561). The construction of the exterior courtyards to the south and east with their various adjacent dwellings (servants' quarters, stables and ballroom), as seen in Machuca's plans (Madrid, Bib. Pal. Real, X-M-242, fasc. 2 of 1528, and plan no. 2 of 1529), was never realized.
The palace's ground-plan, based on a square perimeter with a circular patio contained within, demonstrates Machuca's knowledge of the formal experimentation that characterized the circle of Raphael and Antonio da Sangallo the younger in Rome during the 1510s. It is a curious symbiosis of forms, derived in its typology from the Italian urban palazzo and the villa suburbana. Machuca included in his treatment of the Classical orders theoretical references from Cesare Cesariano's edition of Vitruvius (Como, 1521), rather than sources he had seen himself in Italy, combined with decorative motifs more in the tradition of the Spanish than of the Italian Renaissance, such as the window finials and the sculptured reliefs commemorating the Emperor Charles V's victories at Tunis (1535) and Mühlberg (1547); yet he remained fundamentally true to the architectural trends of his last years in Italy. These recent Italian influences were always more important to Machuca than examples from Classical antiquity. For example, his projected ground-plans owed more to schemes by Raphael, Giuliano and Antonio da Sangallo than to antique Roman sources. Similarly, in his treatment of walls and the Classical orders, he followed Antonio da Sangallo and Raphael in his choice of staircase, oval antechamber, ring-shaped vault with depressed barrel, Serliana, octagonal chapel and the rhythmic openings for recesses in the courtyard wall. Machuca retained the most orthodox Vitruvian precepts (optical corrections and tapered pilasters) of centralization and axial symmetry, thus bringing his work closer to these earlier sources than to Giulio Romano's contemporary but more Mannerist work. In Italian terms his integration of rustic masonry, and the orders in particular, and his formal planning of the scheme as a whole, were an innovation. In Spain, on the other hand, the classical treatment of the façades of the palace, the orthodox use of the orders, the details derived from Vitruvius, the dependence on a rigorous geometrical formula and the symmetry and proportions of the planning led to Machuca's palace being regarded as an 'imported' work and not as a Castilian building.
M. Gómez-Moreno y González: 'Palacio de Carlos V', Rev.
España, xviii (1885), pp. 191-225
M. Gómez-Moreno: 'Sobre el renacimiento en Castilla: En la
Capilla Real de Granada', Archv Esp. A. & Arqueol., iii (1925),
---: Las águilas del renacimiento español (Madrid,
R. Longhi: 'Comprimari spagnoli della maniera italiana',
Paragone, 43 (1953), pp. 3-15
A. Griseri: 'Perino, Machuca, Campaña', Paragone, viii/87
(1957), pp. 13-21
---: 'Nuove chede di manierismo iberico', Paragone, x/113
(1959), pp. 33-44
J. Hernández Perera: '"La Sagrada Familia" de Pedro Machuca en
la catedral de Jaén', Archv Esp. A., xxxiii (1960), pp. 79-81
A. Griseri: 'Berruguete e Machuca dopo il viaggio italiano',
Paragone, xv/179 (1964), pp. 3-19
R. Longhi: 'Ancora sul Machuca', Paragone, xx/231 (1969),
D. Angulo Iñiguez and A. E. Pérez Sánchez: A Corpus of
Spanish Drawings: I, 1400-1600 (London, 1975)
G. Previtali: La pittura del cinquecento a Napoli e nel
vicereame (Turin, 1976)
N. Dacos: Le logge di Raffaello: Maestro e bottega di fronte
all'antico (Rome, 1977)
R. Buendía: El renacimiento, iii of Historia del arte
hispánico (Madrid, 1980)
N. Dacos: 'Pedro Machuca en Italie', Scritti di storia
dell'arte in onore di Federico Zeri (Milan, 1984), i, pp.
E. E. Rosenthal: The Palace of Charles V in Granada
F. Marías: El largo siglo XVI: Los usos artísticos del
renacimiento español (Madrid, 1989)
M. Tafuri: Ricerca del rinascimento (Turin, 1992)
[Marias, Fernando. "Machuca, Pedro." Grove Dictionary of Art Online.]