GIL DE HONTAÑÓN, Rodrigo
(b. 1500, Rascafría, Madrid, d. 1577, Segovia)

Biography

Spanish architect, part of a family of architects, illegitimate son of Juan Gil de Hontañón the Elder. Rodrigo was the most prolific architect of his time in Castile, whether in providing plans, directing operations or giving information about them. In the first phase of his career he followed the Hispano-Flemish style of his father, but from c. 1533 he introduced Italian Renaissance forms, particularly in his civil architecture, which led to his becoming Master of the Works at the cathedrals of Segovia, Palencia, Plasencia and Astorga, Master Mason at the New Cathedral of Salamanca and the most prominent architect of the Spanish Renaissance.

From 1521 to 1529 Rodrigo was working, initially with his father, at Segovia Cathedral. At the same time he worked on the Colegio Fonseca, Salamanca, and he was employed at the beginning of work on the Colegiata in Valladolid, where he became Master of Works in 1537. He also worked on the parish church of S Sebastián, Villacastín, on the chapel of Dean Cepeda, Zamora (destroyed), and on the church in Mota del Marqués (Valladolid), where his contribution to the palace of Don Rodrigo de Ulloa was recorded in 1541.

During the 1530s, he was employed at several other churches and, at Santiago de Compostela, on the cathedral cloister and the courtyards of the Hospital Real. In 1538 he was appointed Master at Salamanca Cathedral; in collaboration with Fray Martín de Santiago, he also began work on the Palacio de Monterrey, Salamanca, one of the most characteristic buildings of 16th-century classicism in Spain, and on the Casa de la Salina. At the same time he worked on S Esteban, Salamanca, and on the façade of Alcalá de Henares University, where he probably designed the Patio Trilingue.

In 1541 Rodrigo was appointed Master of the Works at Palencia Cathedral, a post that, from 1544, he held concurrently with that of Plasencia Cathedral, while he also built the churches of Santa Cruz, Medina de Rioseco, and Santiago, Cáceres. In 1553 he became Master of the Works at Astorga Cathedral, with which he was connected until 1559. During this period he also worked on the church of La Magdalena in Medina del Campo and, in 1562, designed the municipal slaughterhouse. In 1559 he designed the magnificent Palacio de los Guzmanes in León and, the following year, was nominated Master of the Works of Segovia Cathedral, where he was buried.

During the last phase of his life Rodrigo contributed to the Colegio de Santiago (or Colegio del Rey) in Salamanca, the towers of S Hipólito de Támara in Fuentes de Nava and Oviedo Cathedral. He also contributed to the churches of La Magdalena and S Benito in Valladolid, the latter with a monumental portico, Los Sanos Juanes in Nava del Rey and, probably, S Luis at Villagarcía de Campos.