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The Virgin

Spanish (Catalan) Painter (second quarter 15th century)

Medium:
Tempera and oil on wood, gold ground
Dimensions:
Overall 18 3/4 x 15 7/8 in. (47.6 x 40.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Walter C. Baker, 1952
Accession Number:
52.35
  • Gallery Label

    The present painting is the second in a sequence of five panels from a dismembered banco (predella) that may have formed part of the same altarpiece. The four others are, in sequence: 1) Saint Barbara (formerly Nathan Ottinger collection, New York), 4) Saint John the Evangelist (formerly Ottinger collection), 3) the Man of Sorrows (Campion Hall, Oxford), and 5) Saint Catherine of Alexandria (Hans Brantschen collection, Monte Carlo, from 1980). The paint surface of the present painting is much abraded, but the picture preserves its original gold ground and part of its engaged frame.

  • Catalogue Entry

    Forthcoming

  • Provenance

    [Tomás Harris, London]; [Adam Paff, New York, d. 1932]; [Joseph Brummer, New York, 1932]; Mr. and Mrs. Walter C. Baker (1932–her d. 1946); Walter C. Baker, New York (1946–52)

  • References

    Chandler Rathfon Post. "The Catalan School in the Late Middle Ages." A History of Spanish Painting. 7, Cambridge, Mass., 1938, part 1, pp. 230, 234, 236, attributes it to the Sant Quirse Master and refers to it as a panel of a saint, formerly in the collection of Adam Paff, that he has not been able to locate; relates it to four panels from the predella of a retable and a Crucifixion from the pinnacle of the same altarpiece [see Notes]; notes that "it is particularly in the figures of the predella that we observe that the Sant Quirse Master is approaching the easier, broader, and more proficient manner of his maturity. The fresh and maidenly heads of Sts. Barbara and Catherine are spiritualized versions of a type that he often used later for his feminine personages"; describes the trees in the background landscapes as "conventionalized into bits of decoration disproportionately small in size".

    Chandler Rathfon Post. "The Beginning of the Renaissance in Castile and Leon." A History of Spanish Painting. 9, Cambridge, Mass., 1947, part 2, p. 852, states that the Crucifixion [formerly Storrs collection, now National Gallery, London] came from the monastery of Saint Martin at Riglos, and therefore the MMA picture and its related predella panels must have as well, "since the well informed dealer who once owned them definitely stated that the Storrs Crucifixion derived from the same altarpiece as they".

    José Gudiol Ricart. "Pintura gótica." Ars hispaniae. 9, Madrid, [1955], p. 301, dates the Saint Martin altarpiece at Riglos about 1460 and calls the artist the Master of Riglos, noting that he is distinct from the Master of Sant Quirse.

    Neil MacLaren revised and expanded by Allan Braham. National Gallery Catalogues: The Spanish School. London, 1970, pp. 49, 50 n. 7, identifies the artist of the Saint Martin altarpiece as the Master of Riglos, active in the mid 15th century; includes ours as one of the five panels believed to have belonged to the predella of this altarpiece.

    José Gudiol. Pintura medieval en Aragón. Saragossa, 1971, p. 47, dates the Saint Martin altarpiece about 1440.

    Judith Berg Sobré. The Riglos Riddle: A Panel of the Virgin. 1979, pp. 1–8, finds it "highly unlikely" that this panel or its related predella paintings belonged to the Saint Martin retable since the five panels are all flat and therefore designed for a side rather than high altar, and an altar depicting scenes from the life of the convent's patron saint would not be relegated to a side chapel; characterizes the style of the MMA painting as softer and more delicate than works by the Master of Riglos; compares our painting to a Crucifixion by an anonymous artist (ill. in Ref. Post 1947, fig. 362), most likely from Girona (Catalonia) in the second quarter of the 15th century.

    Important Old Master Pictures. Christie's, London. July 11, 1980, p. 41 under no. 19, mention it as part of the same predella as the panel of Saint Catherine [now Hans Brantschen collection, Monte Carlo], attributed to the Master of San Quirse.

    Antoni José i Pitarch. Letter to Dulce Román. January 14, 1998, finds this panel less closely related to the Master of Riglos than it is to a small group of works that comes from Girona: the retable of Saint Michael (Museu d'Art, Girona), a documented work by Joan Antigó and Honorat Borrassà; asserts that the treatment of the landscape in our panel, the configuration of the Virgin's head, and the trademark triangular punchmarks are a guarantee that this Virgin comes from a Girona workshop, and in particular, that of Honorat Borassà, about 1435
    .

    Antonio Naval Mas. Patrimonio emigrado. Huesca, 1999, pp. 144–46, rejects identification of this painting and the related banco panels with the Saint Martin altarpiece at Riglos; refers to a 1916 photograph of the Riglos altarpiece taken before its panels were dispersed, noting that it contains no evidence supporting an association with this banco.

    Francesc Ruiz i Quesada in Bernat Martorell i la tardor del gòtic català: El context artístic del retaule de Púbol. Exh. cat., Museu d'Art de Girona. Girona, 2003, pp. 100–101, 278–79, fig. 36 (color), rejects identification of the banco panels (including ours) with the Saint Martin altarpiece by the Master of Riglos; attributes them instead to Joan Antigó and Honorat Borrassà of Girona, noting stylistic similarities to a panel of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Stephen by these artists (1447–53; Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona).



  • Notes

    This is the second in a series of five panels that belonged to the banco, or predella, of the same altarpiece. The four others are a Saint Barbara (formerly Nathan Ottinger collection, New York), a Man of Sorrows (Campion Hall, Oxford), Saint John the Evangelist (formerly Ottinger collection), and Saint Catherine of Alexandria (Hans Brantschen collection, Monte Carlo, from 1980). Post [Ref. 1938] first linked these panels to a Crucifixion (National Gallery, London) which, along with four other pictures, were part of an altarpiece from the convent of Saint Martin in Riglos (Aragon). Although the banco panels have long been associated with this altarpiece, attributed to the Master of Riglos, Sobré [see Ref. 1979] and Naval Mas [Ref. 1999] have questioned this attribution, and Sobré gives them instead to an anonymous Catalan painter from the second quarter of the fifteenth century. More recently, Ruiz i Quesada [Ref. 2003] attributes the MMA painting to the Catalan artists Joan Antigó and Honorat Borrassà of Girona.

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