Representational strategies of inclusion and exclusion in José del Olmo's narrative and Francisco Rizi's visual record of the Madrid auto de fe of 1680

2012-06-06T13:10:46Z (GMT) by Helen E. Rawlings
The auto de fe — the symbolic enactment of the Spanish Inquisition's religious, judicial, and political authority — conveyed its function essentially via representational means. As well as serving as a theatre for the condemnation of those accused of heresy where mass was celebrated, the auto was a carefully choreographed affirmation of order and rank in society, set within defined spatial confines. The impressive ritual and ceremony associated with the event reached their climax in that held in Madrid's Plaza Mayor on 30 June 1680. This article explores some of the inconsistencies in the strategies of inclusion and exclusion that underpinned the spectacle via a close reading of the inquisitorial official José del Olmo's narrative account of the act of faith (1680) alongside the artist Francisco Rizi's complementary visual interpretation (1683), and examines the resulting challenges posed to a conventional interpretation of the proceedings.