Image that acquires the condition of "rhetorical artifact" to advocate the models of behavior and action during the Catholic Reformation. Being a documentary source as effective as the written ones, both complementary to explore and understand what the society of the Old Regime was like.

Agree with Felipe Pereda on the role of images as mixed entities in which there is the cultural and artistic object, at the same time being the aesthetic component, important for the exaltation and glorification of what is represented through beauty, capable of exalting the cult public raising religious feeling and devotion to the faithful.

Of real importance the appearance of the printing press in its task of disseminating the visual iconic culture, contributing in a culminating way to the implantation of iconographic models.

The social history of images is a field of study committed to making the image not a mere isolated artistic entity, but part of the society in which it arises and, consequently, a document, expressive of uses and functions, since none The work arises spontaneously, they emerge due to the social, historical, and economic circumstances that govern the different spheres of life in which human relations take place.

Peter Burke argues that the social must be included in the cultural, since culture is the superior framework of society. Paying attention to all its elements that go from its creation to its reception. Presuppositions that allow us to connect with the aesthetics of reception, current of German literary criticism. It deals with the aesthetics of the receptive effect, with time and space being decisive factors that determine the different ways of consuming the object and the constructions of meanings that they make possible.

Council of Trent imposed before the Protestant reform, gaining the image and religion an enormous and dangerous power, in the whole of a mostly illiterate society, since it monopolized the masses prey to misery, given to a superstitious religiosity.

Image fostered by the great crisis of the mid-fourteenth century. Being more present than ever the transience of life due to the plague and deaths. Faced with fear and uncertainty, the Church limited itself to guaranteeing salvation through the fulfillment of a series of rituals and submissive acceptance of the dogmas and dictates of its hierarchy.

The dictates on the images were given in the imposition of the Council of Trent, a reaction to the iconoclasm of the Protestant reform. In the Baroque, it was considered that the greater the proliferation of decorative and symbolic load, the better it fulfilled the function of ostentation and expression of the subliminal message of the ephemeral machine. Sacred image as an essential instrument of devotion, continued to control the faithful, Catholic or Protestant, until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Converted into amulets as material manifestations of divinity endowed with supernatural powers.

The aesthetics of the reception deals with the works as products created for consumption, wanting to develop a different meaning from the expectations they had originally. Intentionality and expression in the work of art have been factors taken into account in a traditional way. The meaning of the work of art would coincide with the design conceived in the artist's mind, in this way, interpreting the work would consist of discovering what his intention had been. Richard Wollheim modernized these reflections, clarifying that the meaning of the work rests on an experience induced in the viewer, who must have a minimum of training and sensitivity, which does not fit here, since illiterate populations accepted such representations as those of passion and death of Christ, absolute control by the Church for the desired reactions, such as repentance, compassion, fear and obedience.

Thought questioned and criticized by the analytical aesthetics of the mid-twentieth century, based on the idea that it is illogical to think that the ultimate intention of the artist could be known if the artist has not left obvious signs in the work. The only logical thing would be to think that this piece or work has some recognizable properties, reminiscent of the properties that we recognize in ourselves.


Vicente Carducho "Estimagtización de San Francisco" (1605)


Diego Velázquez "Cristo despues de la flaquelación y el alma cristiana" (1626)


Francisco de Zurbarán "Virgen niña dormida" (1658)


Juan Martínez Montañés "Santo Domingo Penitente" (1607)