"As we can't travel to Javea at the moment, we went to MNACC, Catalunya National Art Museum in Barcelona, the other day to look at the Baroque galleries. They have been redone and have a lot of paintings on loan from the Thyssen collection from Madrid. I was happy to see many El Greco's, Titian, Tiepolo, Canaletto. Having studied with you, the Zurbarán were particularly amazing. His Saint Francis of Assisi and Crucified Christ were incredible as was the Still life with Vessels. I remembered from your lecture. I kept telling Michael to look at his fabrics!
Anyway hope you are having a good week and see you at the next Neo-classical talk next weekend."
"In her book "Spanish Dogs", the historian and teacher Karla Ingleton Darocas, leads us through the fascinating history of dogs in Spain from the Neolithic to modern times by means of her extensive background knowledge and a companionable illustrative style.
I was particularly impressed by the role of dogs during one of the darkest chapters of Spanish history, the Conquista, when the Conquistadores used dogs of war as cruel and brutal weapons against the local populations.
A large part of the book illustrates the history of dogs in Spain with examples from paintings by Velazquez, Murillo, Goya, Sorolla and other well-known Spanish painters. Although we are familiar with many of these paintings, we may have hardly noticed the presence of dogs there, if at all. Karla directs our attention to these dogs and creates a picture of their role and importance in their respective epochs.
The last chapter, "Dog of Love", tells us about the intimate relationship between Pablo Picasso and his dachshund Lump. This beautiful story leaves us feeling optimistic regarding the future for dogs in a country where, unfortunately, much still needs to be done for animal welfare.
"Spanish Dogs" is a recommendation for all dog lovers and also those interested in Spanish history and art. Thanks to Karla for this great book, which is really worth reading."
* Marianne Pätzold, Colmenar Viejo (Madrid)
"I am a regular student. I took the class on the Evolution of 17th Century Spanish Classical Landscape paintings.
I've always taken "landscapes" for granted - they're there in the background, OK. But I learned that they were NOT always there, they've got a history. I knew that landscapes give paintings "atmosphere", but I learned that you can read a landscape to understand the feeling of the painting.
I am now looking forward to seeing the evolution of the landscape and how it can give importance (or not) to the people, object or action depicted.
Karla opens my eyes to things we take for granted. I recommend her classes."
- Josette Jouas, Denia
“A fascinating lecture from Karla on 17th Century Spanish portraits. As ever the listener learnt as much about Spanish history as Spanish art so making these lectures a must for anyone keen to learn more about Spain as their chosen home.
Karla is a great fan of the Spanish painter, Velasquez, and by the end of the lecture we were in agreement. We were shown how Velasquez’ style evolved over time and was shaped by the influences of the 17th Century Spanish court he lived in and by the developments in painting, especially from Italy where he studied in Naples. Like his contemporaries he began by showing his mastery of painting the textiles his sitters were wearing. However, at his height his skill was much more about showing the soul of his subject which is so affecting today as they gaze out at us hundreds of years later.
Karla took us through the work of several other Spanish artists of the time and it was here in particular we learnt so much about the fashions of the 17th Century Spanish court. The clothes were super-sumptuous and unimaginably expensive. They also were designed to engage with the viewer using signs and symbols which communicated meaning. The painting of little Prince Philip Prosper showed him wearing a host of charms to protect him in different ways but sadly it was all in vain and he died very young. There were other symbols too such as only royals could have a chair in view as only a royal could sit in the presence of royalty.
We were given several other insights into life at that time, at least amongst the very wealthy. Perhaps as ever beauty was associated with pain. Ladies cleavage was held in place by wooden planks in their dresses and there was no such thing as a left and right shoe – all shoes were the same.”
- Chris Wood, Jávea
"I feel I learn something new at each lecture - not only the painting and artists, of course, but some cultural or historical point. In this lecture, I learned about damascene art work used on the armors worn by royalty - typically Spanish. Karla opens up new doors each time. Always a pleasure."
- Josette Jouas, Denia
"I took the class because I have always had an interest in the history of art - so always keen to learn more.
I liked the way that the lecture gave an insight into history generally interspersed with the history of the paintings and artists.
The following points were interesting like how in the portraits the Royals are leaning on chairs, the importance of dwarfs, the strange facial features caused by the Habsburg interbreeding, and about how Velasquez’s son-in-law worked with him, and so much more.
I like Karla's depth of knowledge of the subject and all of the surrounding non-art facts. I also appreciated her informality and the fact that she didn't just read from notes.
I will recommend her classes and speak to a friend."
- Michael Atkinson, UK
"We see them sitting under chairs in cafes, popping out of handbags and catching frisbees at the beach. If you are lucky enough to have a dog as a pet then they are there to welcome you home. We see them in today’s modern world and accept them just so.
"This time the selection of profane paintings by masters such as: José Ribera, Diego Velazquez and Francisco Zurburán impressed me because of the clear Baroque elements like dark backgrounds and the engagement of the persons with the public. Many of the paintings looked like photographs in their stunning details of the human body, scenes in themselves, clothing and hairstyle ( mustaches). New in this lecture was the Still Life slot or 'Naturaleza muerta' in Spanish.
* Nicola Clark - U.K.
"I was absolutely overwhelmed with this art we saw today in Karla's class. The still life particularly I found beautiful and lifelike. The history behind these paintings was enlightening and very interesting.
I learn so much from these lectures, very fulfilling. Karla's incredible depth of knowledge and exciting teaching style makes the whole experience very memorable .
I Absolutely recommend her classes."
* Floradiane Santiago - Jávea
"Karla's lecture on 17th century Spanish baroque profane painting opened my eyes on painters known for their religious art (Velazquez, Ribera...).
We learned about other themes developed at the time : "everyday" life, poor children living in poverty because of the plague, still-life paintings popular with the "tourists" of the time.
A combination of art and history makes for an interesting and informative lecture. Bravo Karla."
* Josette Jous, Denia
"It is timely indeed that Karla should write a book re-evaluating the role of dogs in Spanish art and culture. This current Covid lockdown has led to many of us deciding that we need dogs in our lives for companionship and for exercise. Yet again, the role of the dog in our society is being looked at afresh.
Karla’s book traces how the symbiotic relationship between human and dog goes back at least to Neolithic times. There is much evidence such as the careful and dignified burial of owner and dog together in many ancient cultures to suggest that dogs were, as Karla observes, seen as part wild, part human and part divine.
Some ancients saw dogs as having healing powers leading to dogs being laid on to the bodies of sick people or to lick wounds.
Small dogs were bred to be companions to children whereas 90kg mastiffs in armour performed a valuable role in battle. The Romans at least were not averse to dog sacrifice to ensure a good harvest.
In many ways Karla demonstrates that dogs have always been more than just working animals.
As artists discovered painting on canvas dogs were co-opted into a story telling role. In a world without television or radio (let alone the internet) paintings were there to both entertain and inform.
In Velasquez’s painting of Jacob being told of the death at the hands of wolves of Joseph, his favourite son, it is a small dog barking at the bottom of the painting that reminds us that Joseph’s brothers are lying about the fate of Joseph. In one of Velasquez’s court paintings, we see him portraying very sweetly Felipe IV’s young son, Prince Felipe Prospero. In the painting Velasquez has placed a small spaniel next to the child on a throne-like chair. The Prince was very sickly and died at the age of four. Was Velasquez signalling that the dog had more chance of acceding to the throne than his little master?
Karla’s book is full of such insights.
We learn how small dogs were used to complete the nuclear family in a Catholic propaganda campaign where artists were charged with tackling licentious behaviour in the late 1600s.
Dogs often appear as symbols of fidelity in paintings celebrating a wedding. We also see how the treatment by artists of hunting dogs could send a message of either the success of Kings in war or, with the more enlightened views of Goya, remind us we were to some extent slaves to circumstances.
After reading Karla’s book you will look again at the dog in any painting and ponder on what he is there to tell us about his owner and ultimately about ourselves."
* Chris Tucker, Javea
Book Review: Spanish Dogs by Karla Ingleton Darocas
Published 21st January 2021 | By Sandra Piddock
Karla Ingleton Darocas is based in Benitachell on Spain’s Costa Blanca. On her website, SpainLifestyle.com, she describes herself as:
An educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.
Karla has a BA Hons, and is also a photographer, author and Spanish Fine Arts Historian. She’s also a self-confessed dog lover, with two rescue dogs, Venus and Mars.
Her latest book, Spanish Dogs: The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture and the Arts, is a testament to Karla’s love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.
"It is because Karla cares so much that she was so worried about how her lectures would work in the new virtual environment - well she needn't have. Her Sacred Baroque lecture delivered over Zoom was just as engaging and thought-provoking as any other I have attended.
In fact, Karla made good use of the technology by going close up on features of the paintings so we could see and learn more about what some of the symbols and icons meant. We otherwise might have missed these details. She also put paintings side by side so we could compare them and see how different artists tackled the exact same subject, showing us how artists evolved in terms of their skill and to reflect changing trends.
As always, we saw history through the eyes of the artists and given that many artists she covered were painting at the time of their own pandemic hundreds of years ago - this had a particular piquancy.
Highly recommended and I can't wait for the next one."
* Christine Wood - Javea
"As usual, Karla combines history, to explain the context of the times, and the pictorial techniques, to help us better "read" a painting. She talks about the painters' lives, their travels, motivations and influences.
Altogether, this makes for a very interesting and informative lecture. In this case, the evolution of Spanish baroque religious painting.
I am looking forward to the next lecture on Spanish baroque profane painting.
Karla is very knowledgeable in Spanish culture and history.
I recommend Karla Darocas teachings"
* Josette Jouas, Denia
"Well, I must admit that I have never given any though to the representation of dogs in art. As the owner of two Spanish dogs, I will now.
From prehistoric through to the 20th century, Karla guides us in interpreting the art, and also engages us to understand better the roles that dogs played in daily life.
Karla writes in an engaging fashion, and brings the subject to life very well. I often judge people based on how they treat their animals; now I’ll be both noticing, and interpreting the dogs I see in art.
I always enjoy the opportunity to increase my appreciation and understanding of art, and this book has opened a new window for me to look through."
Chris Newkirk * Las Peñitas, Nicaragua
"There are tons of books on "Dogs", so what makes Karla's book stand out? I would even say, what makes it exceptional?
It is the first book on dogs in Spanish history and culture. The means by which she chooses to present them appeals to me greatly - through artefacts and Spanish Art.
Her time period spans from the time of the Neanderthals to modern times. She speaks of the working dog, the dogs of war and lap dogs. Her illustrations go from religious art to court paintings. We discover famous painters and their relation to dogs (from Goya to Picasso).
Her book is very detailed.
What makes it interesting to read are the many stories and anecdotes that accompany the information. Karla, with her artistic background, leads us into a painting and draws our attention to something we would not necessarily see ourselves, and explains the "why and the how".
I strongly recommend Karla's book for those who love dogs, Spanish history and culture, and/or Spanish art. Her writing style is easy to follow."
* Josette Jouas, Denia
"Spanish Dogs is a fabulous journey. The author, Karla Darocas, had me look at dogs in Spain from the Stone Age through to Modern Day. Along the way she showed me cave drawings, artefacts, pictures and portraits from great masters, depicting man's interaction with dogs. The result is a fascinating adventure with dogs intertwined with Spanish history and humans. The sad part was the shocking realisation that in many parts of Spain, dogs are not protected and are often badly treated.
This book tells of many interesting and diverse facts that I had never considered before like how Egyptians worshipped a dog-like god, Anubis, and how the Roman legions trained dogs to be warriors and wear fighting armour.
It also explained how both the Greeks and the Romans kept small dogs as pets for their children and often buried the pet dog along with the child, enabling them to be together in the afterlife.
I also learned how the Muslim Conquest of Spain introduced the Berber water dogs that would assist them in fishing and bringing in the nets.
I didn’t know that in Spain during the Renaissance, companion dogs were kept as sleeping partners in order to attract the fleas that were common on Catholics who did not wash because they might be mistaken by the Inquisition as a Muslim and tossed in prison.
It was interesting to see what kind of dogs the Spanish Habsburg Kings kept for hunting and how dogs would aid beggars and blind street performers.
Even into the 19th and 20th centuries, dogs took their place in the portraits of famous people.
I found the whole of this book informative and engrossing. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good read and interesting humanist knowledge."
- Judy Dicken, Scotland