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GASPAR BECERRA (1520-1570)

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Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 602 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GASPAR BECERRA (1520-1570), Spanish painter and sculptor, was born at Baeza in Andalusia. He studied at Rome, it is said under Michelangelo, and assisted Vasari in painting the hall of the Concelleria. He also contributed to the anatomical plates of Valverde. After his return to Spain he was extensively employed by Philip II., and decorated many of the rooms in the palace at Madrid with frescoes. He also painted altar-pieces for several of the churches, most of which have been destroyed. His fame as a sculptor almost surpassed that as a painter. His best work was a magnificent figure of the Virgin, which was destroyed during the French war. He became court painter at Madrid in 1563, and played a prominent part in the establishment of the fine arts in Spain. . BECHE-DE-MER (sometimes explained as " sea-spade," from the shape of the prepared article, but more probably from the Port. bicho, a worm or grub), or TREPANG (Malay, tripang), an important food luxury among the Chinese and other Eastern peoples, connected with the production of which considerable trade exists in the Eastern Archipelago and the coasts of New Guinea, and also in California. It consists of several species of echinoderms, generally referred to the genus Holothuria, especially H. edulis. The creatures, which exist on coral reefs, have bodies from 6 to 15 in. long, shaped like a cucumber, hence their name of " sea-cucumbers." The skin is sometimes covered with spicules or prickles, and sometimes quite smooth, and with or without " teats " or ambulacral feet disposed in rows. Five varieties are recognized in the commerce of the Pacific Islands, the finest of which is the " brown with teats." The large black come next in value, followed by the small black, the red-bellied and the white. They are used in the gelatinous soups which form an important article of food in China. They are prepared for use by being boiled for about twenty minutes, and then dried first in the sun and afterwards over a fire, so that they are slightly smoked.
End of Article: GASPAR BECERRA (1520-1570)

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