Dulcinea is the title of Ramiro Espinoza’s in-depth look at Spanish Baroque calligraphy’s most extreme tendencies, and especially at some of those produced by the writing masters Pedro Díaz Morante and Juan Claudio Aznar de Polanco. These new 17th and 18th centuries alphabets with their plentiful calligraphic flourishes represented a marked break with the harmonic and angular Renaissance Cancellaresca style.
It was Morante who first introduced and popularized the use of the pointed quill in Spain, and although his famous text entitled “Arte Nueva de escribir” — first volume published in 1616 — contains alphabets that have much in common with traditional broad nib Cancellaresca calligraphy, most of the examples therein are outgrowths of the new models put forward by the Italian master Gianfrancesco Cresci.
The writing’s swashes are complex and intricate, but at the same time they feature a profusion of defects. Many of them sometimes come close to ugliness. However, these pages contain an artistic essence that bears a relationship to the ironic and sometimes somber character of Spanish Baroque. That’s why the name of the font pays homage to “Dulcinea del Toboso”, the fictional beauty from Miguel de Cervantes’s book, a work that reveals many of the period’s conflicts.
But Dulcinea is far from being just a revival. Its forms are not careful tracings of the outlines of Morante and Polanco’s letters, nor are they attempts to reproduce them digitally. In fact, the author of the letters says that had the font been created that way it would have been too archaic to serve as acceptable contemporary typography. However, he believes that there are myriad interesting details that can be rescued and preserved, along with the playful spirit of the original.