CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Mencía de Mendoza

conference: 3 April - 5 April 2003


A three-day international conference at the Museum of Fine Arts, Valencia, Spain

This conference brings together scholars from Europe and the Americas to discuss Mencía de Mendoza (+1554). The ambitious intellectual and artistic pursuits of Mencía de Mendoza, Marchioness of Zenete and Duchess of Calabria (1508-1554), were unrivalled amongst Spanish nobles during the first half of the sixteenth century. The conference will provide insight into one of the most important Renaissance collectors in Europe. The scant information we have on her collection suggests that it comprised one of the most sophisticated assemblages of art of its time.

A descendant of the great cardinal Mendoza, Mencía de Mendoza (1508-1554), was the daughter of Rodrigo, first Marquis of Zenete and Maria de Fonseca and Toledo. Born in Jadraque, she soon left for Calahorra (Granada) and, later, to Valencia. Like most of her other famed Mendoza cousins, Mencía was educated in a humanist tradition.

At the age of 16, Mencía became the third wife of Hendrik III, Count of Nassau (d. 1538). She moved with her husband to the Netherlands, where they formed part of Emperor Charles V’s court. Shortly after Mencía’s arrival in Breda, she began to patronize many important Netherlandish artists, in particular Jan Gossaert and Bernard van Orley.

The Marchioness’s interest in collecting was certainly not limited to paintings. She engaged numerous silversmiths and commissioned tapestries from Brussels and illuminated Books of Hours from the Bruges studio of Simon Bening. Her collection also included a variety of other objects, such as cameos, corals, drawings, gems, medals, and even dolls. Following Hendrik’s death, Mencía returned to Valencia and married Ferdinand of Aragon, Duke of Calabria and Viceroy of Valencia, whose court in Valencia was the center of cultural activity in the region. Upon her death in 1554, she was buried in the convent of Santo Domingo, Valencia, where her parents lay.

In addition to providing a forum for intellectual discussion and debate, the conference will also celebrate the artistic richness of Renaissance and contemporary art in Valencia, Spain. Spain’s third largest city, Valencia is located on the Mediterranean coast, just a few hours from Barcelona, Madrid and the Balearic Islands. Valencia is home to one of Europe’s largest fruit, vegetable and fish markets. Major cultural institutions there are IVAM, the center for contemporary art, and Santiago Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences.


The conference is being made possible by the generosity of the Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana of the Generalitat Valenciana Conselleria de Cultura, Educació, i Ciéncia, Direcció Géneral de Promoció Cultural. Further, it is a collaboration between the Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana of the Generalitat Valenciana, the Getty Research Institute, the program for cultural cooperation of Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and various universities in the United States.

Abbreviated schedule of events:

Thursday, April 3

Evening welcome reception

Friday, April 4

Conference papers at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Valencia

Saturday, April 5

Conference papers, and closing reception at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Valencia

Mencía de Mendoza presents a roster of speakers whose fields of expertise span the breadth of the humanities including history, art history, and literature. Papers will address topics ranging from female models of collecting to the Mendozas as patrons and Bosch’s work in Mencía de Mendoza’s collection to the patron’s humanist university project for the city of Valencia.


Maryan Ainsworth, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Mari-Tere Alvarez, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Adam Beaver, Harvard University, Boston
Fernando Benito Doménech, Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia, Valencia
Marcus Burke, Hispanic Society of American, New York
Dagmar Eichberger, University of Heidelberg
Arianne Faber Kolb, Berkeley
Amparo Felipo Orts, University of Valencia
Ronda Kasl, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Matt Kavaler, University of Toronto
Thomas Kren, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Juana Hidalgo Ogayar, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares
Patricia Legorreta, Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico D.F.
Fernando Marías, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Helen Nader, University of Arizona, Phoenix
Suzanne Stratton-Pruitt, Independant scholar, New York
Paul Vandenbroeck, Royal Museum of Art, Antwerp


The organizers are Mari-Tere Alvarez of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Arianne Faber-Kolb, Berkeley, California. Conference coordinators are Amador Grinyo, Generalitat Valenciana Conselleria de Cultura Valencia, Spain and Peg Rettino, J. Paul Getty Museum (adminstrative director).

A final, updated list of speakers will be provided at the conference. For further information about the conference, please contact Mari-Tere Alvarez, J. Paul Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Drive suite 1000, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA, E-mail: Mari-Tere Alvarez or Peg Rettino.