ARFE, Enrique de
(b. ca. 1475, Harff, d. 1545, León)


Spanish goldsmith of German origin (Heinrich von Harff). He established himself in León, Spain, c. 1505. He introduced new types of ecclesiastical silver into Spain, for example the so-called 'seated' monstrances, transforming tower-shaped structures into free-standing objects. He executed monstrances for León Cathedral (begun 1506; destroyed), the monastery of S Benito, Sahagún (Sahagún, Ayuntamiento, Museum), Córdoba Cathedral (1518; in situ) and possibly also that in Cádiz Cathedral (1528; in situ). Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, Archbishop of Toledo, commissioned from de Arfe a magnificent processional cross (1515–24; Toledo Cathedral) decorated with silver-gilt statuettes. De Arfe also executed a number of silver pieces for the diocese of León, for example the processional cross of Villamunio, the shrine of S Froilán (1519–20; in situ) in León Cathedral and the processional cross and the Reliquary of the Holy Cross of the Colegiata de S Isidoro, León. He also made the four sceptres (1527) in Oviedo Cathedral.

His style is idiosyncratic, as he used a complex Gothic style found in contemporary German silver. Despite producing the same types of object throughout his career, he developed variations of form and style, although the architectonic conception of all his pieces is outstanding. He gradually adopted Renaissance ornamental elements in his work without abandoning the Flemish style of northern Europe. His son Antonio de Arfe (c. 1510–75) was also a notable silversmith and was active in Valladolid from 1547. Antonio's work is in the Plateresque style, for example large silver tabernacles in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral (1539–45).

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.