Goodbye to Margarita Estella, a benchmark in the world of sculpture

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Updated:04/02/2020 01: 48h

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Daughter of the prestigious professor of Medicine José Estella Bermúdez de Castro, the historian Margarita M. Estella Marcos, born in Zaragoza on September 29, 1930, died in Madrid on March 22 at the age of eighty-nine. His contribution was extraordinary in the field of studies of the European eboraria, Hispanic-Filipino, Luso-Indian and Spanish-American, of which it is without a doubt international authority. No less important and no less numerous are his works devoted to Spanish and Italian sculpture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which are works of obligatory reference in the framework of this field of study.

He was part of an important generation of art historians – of which there are few now – trained in the heat of Diego Angulo, director of the Diego Velázquez Institute of the CSIC, at a decisive moment of international opening and search for the specialization of our discipline. Angulo was always aware of the need to train specialists in non-Spanish subjects, with critical capacity and knowledge, and he looked for the means so that they could train and function on equal terms, men and women, within international academic circles. One of the gaps in our historiography was the ivory sculpture study, a task that entrusted Margarita upon entering the institution as a fellow in 1957.

Thanks to a grant from the Lázaro Galdiano Foundation, he stayed at the Kunsthistorisches Institut of the University of Bonn in 1960, a reference center in those years, where he began to prepare his study on medieval ivories that would see the light a few decades later. Her doctoral thesis, dedicated to Hispanic-Philippine sculpture, was defended in 1974 and published thanks to the auspices of her inseparable companion Elisa Bermejo. It also opened other avenues for research, such as that of Italian sculpture in Spanish gardening, or the presence and influence of Flemish sculpture in Spain, being pioneer in the field of artistic circulation, who finds a true starting point in his works, at a time when there was no talk of global art.

Corresponding member of the Hispanic Society of America (1987) and corresponding academic of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando (1996), I would like to underline his extraordinary generosity with young researchers. I was lucky enough to meet her at the headquarters of the CSIC Center for Historical Studies when she was a fellow and the council still had an institute for Art History, the Diego Velázquez on Calle Duque de Medinaceli, the seed of great historians and still a center of knowledge and knowledge. I will always remember his passion for the magazine “Archivo Español de Arte”, whose management he carried out with great responsibility. His loss leaves an indelible mark in many of us. Rest in peace.

Benito Navarrete

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