Kelly Donahue-Wallace offers an illuminating perspective on the Enlightenment through the biography of an expert medal caster, Jerónimo Antonio Gil, whose career took him from provincial Zamora to Madrid and ultimately Mexico, where he founded the first royal academy of the arts in the New World. Had Gil lived in the seventeenth century, he would have become a painter, churning out religious canvases in his native Zamora. Had Gil moved to Madrid, he would have become a criado (servant) for a stonecutter or other craftsperson, never an artisan letrado (intellectual). When Gil left Zamora in the 1740s, however, he got a stipend to attend the new Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, where he learned skills for commemorative medal making, typesetting, and engraving. He was also trained to master a literary and historical national canon in the vernacular....

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