|I. Introduction and general description|
The work for which Duque Cornejo is best known is the grandiose choir stalls (sillería de coro
) of the Cathedral of Córdoba. In 1747 or 1748, he moved his entire household and workshop to Córdoba, where he dedicated himself almost exclusively to the sillería
for the last ten years of his life. The work was almost complete when he died on 3 September 1757. The cathedral chapter, wishing his funeral to be of the “greatest ostentation,” gave him burial on 5 September in the cathedral, next to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, in front of the presbytery; the formal dedication of the choir took place on 17 September 1757.
Duque Cornejo’s culminating masterpiece is a typical Spanish choir, a rectangular enclosure dominating the nave of the church and open at the end facing the presbytery. The material of which it is constructed is mahogany, brought at great expense from Cuba. At the center of the western end is the huge, retablo
-like bishop’s throne. Flanking this imposing structure and continuing down the long sides of the choir are 109 stalls, divided into horizontal levels, called the upper and lower stalls, for the seating of other members of the cathedral clergy. Virtually every surface is covered by an incredibly exuberant and fantastic carved ornamentation. The progress of the construction of the choir is abundantly documented in the cathedral archives.