Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Pedro Calderón de la Barca was born in January 1600. He was a poet and playwriter. and one of the leading writers of the Spanish Golden Age. Most of his works premiered in the theaters of Madrid. His first known comedy, Love, Honor and Power premiered at the Kings Palace on the occasion of the visit of Charles, Prince of Wales, on June 29, 1623.
He had considerable favour in the court, and in 1636 he was made a knight of the Order of Santiago by King Philip IV, who commissioned him to make a series of plays for the royal theatre in the newly built Buen Retiro palace. He lived a full life and was appointed honorary chaplain to the King in 1663. At the age of 81 he wrote his last play, Hado y Divisa de Leonido y Marfisa, in honor of King Charles II’s marriage to Maria Luisa of Orléans.
Calderón was a respected and influential character and became a model for an entire generation of playwrights including Agustín Moreto and Francisco Rojas Zorrilla. His themes were complex and philosophical, and expressed complicated states of mind in a manner that few playwrights have been able to recreate.
The people of Madrid dedicated a beautiful marble sculpture to his memory in 1880. It was created by Juan Figueras Vila and is located in the Plaza de Santa Ana in front of the traditional Spanish Theater. The Academy of History and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando approved its design and chose its location. It is one of the few urban monuments that have remained in the same place since its inauguration.
The statue depicts the writer on a pedestal which is divided into two parts. The lower part has bronze reliefs related to his works: Life is a dream, The Mayor of Zalamea, The Dance of Death and The hidden and The Covered. The upper part has two marble reliefs representing Comedy, Tragedy, Poetry and War.
As with his life, his funeral was simple and without fanfare. However what is most interesting is that he was buried and unearthed six times until his remains were lost in 1936. It is said that they may be found hidden in the church walls of his last resting place, Our Lady of Sorrows on San Bernardo street in Madrid.