Toledo (EFE).- Isabel de Oballe, from Toledo, did not conform to what was expected of women in the 16th century, including mistreatment by her father and brother, and she left for America at a very young age, where she made her fortune.
This intelligent and “indomitable” woman bequeathed her fortune to Toledo and from her remains one of the most beautiful paintings by El Greco, the altarpiece of the Immaculate Oballe that the Cretan painted for the chapel commissioned by ‘Indiana’.
In front of this Immaculate Oballe, in the Museum of Santa Cruz de Toledo, the academic of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Historical Sciences of Toledo and professor of Art History (School of Art of Toledo) Rosalina Aguado rescues, for the EFE Agency , the life of a woman “who had to be indomitable, with a strong character, a woman who did not give in to the usual.”
Isabel de Oballe, the woman who fled from the “bumps” in 1530
Isabel de Oballe was of humble condition, something that did not prevent her from leaving Toledo at a very young age, in 1530, fleeing from the ill-treatment – the word “porrazos” is the one that appears in the witness statements – from her father and her brother.
He endured the long road from Toledo to Seville, waited until he obtained the permits to embark to America, endured the two or three months of crossing, and upon arrival headed for the City of Kings (present-day Lima, in Peru), where he made his fortune. and she married Cristóbal de Burgos, first, and, when she was widowed, with the Biscayan nobleman Pedro López de Sojo.
In 1557 he decided to return to Spain and before leaving, on March 8, he made a will, but Isabel de Oballe died in Seville before reaching her hometown and was buried in the church of San Vicente.
In his will he left money to build a chapel in Toledo
Not having children, she left everything to her husband, on the condition that he never remarry, and to the Toledo City Council, to build a chapel in the church of San Vicente Mártir, a temple deconsecrated in 1842 that is currently a art room and activities (Círculo de Arte).
López de Sojo did not comply with Isabel’s wishes and remarried, with Inés de Aguilar, and had a son, Francisco, and when he died, his widow started lawsuits with the Toledo City Council to get part of the fortune of the first wife. of her husband.
In this way, it was not until the end of the 16th century that the remains of Isabel de Oballe were able to return to Toledo to receive burial as she had indicated.
The Toledo City Council then began to fulfill the will of the ‘Indiana’, including a fund that had been provided for young people without resources and a chapel in San Vicente, whose decoration was initially commissioned to the Genoese living in Toledo Alejandro Simín, who died soon, with which El Greco was chosen, to whom the work was contracted in 1607 for 1,200 ducats.
The Cretan changed Simín’s project, marked his conditions and chose oil instead of fresco painting. The result is the marvelous Immaculate Oballe, the “most poetic, most lyrical, most exciting” work by El Greco, in the words of José Álvarez Lopera, who was head of Spanish Painting at the Prado Museum, as Rosalina Aguado recalls.
The ship: a wink from El Greco to ‘la Indiana’?
As happened with other works, El Greco delayed the delivery of the altarpiece, which ended in 1613, a year before he died. His son Jorge Manuel handed it over to the City Council in 1615.
“La Inmaculada is fantastic, it is a whirlwind of movement, of light, of color. She is bright and vibrant, ”underlines the academic.
To do this, he looks at the different scenes at the bottom: there is a view of Toledo, with the tower of the Cathedral, the Alcántara bridge and the castle of San Servando; symbols of litanies such as roses, lilies, a fountain or a mirror (of justice), and the monastery where San Idefonso, patron saint of Toledo, studied.
And a boat is also painted, on which a double reading can be made: identify it with the star of the seas, which guides and protects sailors, or see it as an allusion to the trip that Isabel de Oballe made to America.
“Perhaps El Greco paid homage to Indiana,” says Aguado, who affirms that the painter could have chosen any other element but he opted for a ship.
El Greco, modern for his time; Oballe, with strength and courage
Del Greco affirms that he was “a modern for his time” and that “he has the ability, based on very small brushstrokes, to give absolutely fantastic volume to the figures”.
And about that woman from Toledo who did not want to follow the rules, she assures that “she had courage, strength, courage” and emphasizes that she did not conform: “the man considered that the place of the woman was to be at home, raising their children, and if there was some intellectual woman, there were many, they were looked at as a rarity and they were treated in a paternalistic way”.
Isabel de Oballe also left in her will the wish that a silver lamp would burn “forever and ever” in her chapel in Toledo and the City Council fulfilled it, but French troops stole it in 1809 and it disappeared.
Tribute to Isabel de Oballe at the Santa Cruz Museum
Aguado emphasizes that most of what is known about Isabel de Oballe is due to the investigations of Almudena Sánchez-Palencia and the documentation of the Municipal Archive of Toledo.
The Immaculate Oballe painted by El Greco arrived at the Museum of Santa Cruz de Toledo in the sixties of the 20th century.
On the occasion of March 8, the Museum of Santa Cruz and its Association of Friends will pay homage to Isabel de Oballe and both on that day and every Saturday of the month Rosalina Aguado will present the altarpiece of the Immaculate Oballe.