Valencia's Golden Age & The Museum's International Gothic Collection


The International Gothic aesthetic became a highly decorative and recognizable style that swept Europe during the end of the 14th century and the first part of the 15th century. 

The style found its roots in the evolution of European society and culture during the Late Middle Ages. A new social class emerged in the cities that were not tied to land or lord. European cities flourished as commercial and economic centers now independent of the power of the Church or the feudal aristocracy. 

The bourgeoisie evolved as a middle class of artisans and merchants who worked together to bring about a new economic reality and new social values. These Guilds were an important part of medieval society. They looked after the economic interests of each locality and became regulators of the economy.

The nobles of the feudal aristocracy, on the other hand, had to abandon their castles and fortified mansions and move into the cities where they would be closer to the courts of their sovereigns.

Throughout the century, the courtly nobility progressively adopted the new economic and social values ​​of the bourgeoisie, while the bourgeoisie struggled to acquire prestige and copy the aristocratic way of life.

This was also a time of great cultural exchange. This was how the pictorial tastes and techniques of the International Gothic style spread across Europe.

International Gothic pieces were expensive and refined works, rich in color and decorative, with abundant use of gold. The lines were floating and curved. Costumes were rendered with meticulousness and adorned with an abundance of sinuous folds. The figures of the characters were stylized. The women were pretty, the old men had extra long beards, and they all had elongated fingers. 

Icon painting was abandoned for more rational use of perspective, modeling, and settings, creating a very unique style unknown in the West.

There was a new trend to pay attention to nature and represent the world more realistically. Animals, plants, the elements of everyday life, were carefully and faithfully reflected. However, not lost was the use of symbolism, a visual language that spoke to the refined clients of the aristocratic courts. 

The story narratives were friendly and fun. There was a mix of sacred stories with secular characters and of course, patrons were included in these narratives. The style was represented with a chivalric and courtly flare.


Valencian Golden Age was a great cultural movement. It included all of the sciences, medicine, humanities, and arts of the time and provided the best literary works, which were not only written in the Kingdom of Valencia but in the Valencian language. 

This century, between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, was enlivened by its close relations with the Italians. The King of Aragon, Alfonso V the Magnanimous (1416-1458), settled in Naples where he maintained a brilliant court, until his death in 1458. He was a patron of the arts. He founded the Academy of Naples and for his entrance into the city in 1443, he had a magnificent triumphal arch added to the main gate of Castel Nuovo. His son Ferdinand II succeeded him in Naples with the same splendor.

From Valencia, Alfonso the Magnanimous began an expansive foreign policy for the Mediterranean. The middle class of Barcelona fled to the Kingdom of Valencia, where the work would be plentiful. Barcelona went into a heavy decline and dropped to 14,000 inhabitants, while the city of Valencia grew to reach 75,000 in the middle of the century. The Valencian capital became the economic, political, and social center of the Crown of Aragon and hence the intellectual, literary, and artistic circles flourished, spreading their benefits and influence to the whole of the Kingdom.

Valencia celebrated the first Bible printed in the Romance language in Europa (1478) by Fray Bonifaci Ferrer, brother of Saint Vincent, with the permission of the Vatican. This was a very big deal since Bibles were only supposed to be written in Latin.