Unpublished Early Spanish Paintings in American and English Collections

Embed Size (px)

Text of Unpublished Early Spanish Paintings in American and English Collections

  • Unpublished Early Spanish Paintings in American and English CollectionsAuthor(s): Chandler R. PostSource: The Art Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Dec., 1952), pp. 279-283Published by: College Art AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3047439 .Accessed: 14/06/2014 07:17

    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

    .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.


    College Art Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The ArtBulletin.


    This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 07:17:07 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions





    FROM the desperately tangled mesh of closely interrelated Valencian painters in the circle of Pedro Nicoliu and Andres Marzal de Sas during the early stages of the "international" style at the beginning of the fifteenth century, scholars have recently extracted a few definite strands in the persons of such men as the Gil Master and the Ollerfa Master; and it is now possible, I think, to isolate another artist in the network, namely, the author of the retable at a town in Valencian terri- tory, Vall de Almonacid, a work that happily survived the holocausts of the Spanish civil war. We accomplish the segregation of his personality through the additional evidence provided by the recognition of a further achievement of his; but, before we can turn to this panel, we.

    must cite the considerations which are based on documentary notices published by Saraleguil after I wrote Volume vi of my History of Spanish Painting, where I studied the retable of Vall de Almonacid,2 and which virtually confute the suggestion there made by me that it might conceivably have been executed by the still inadequately identified painter, Lorenzo Zaragoza.

    The pith of these considerations is that the retable in all probability once decorated a chapel in the cloister of the cathedral of the near-lying Segorbe and, if so, would have been made at too tardy a date to have been comprised within the span of Lorenzo's activity. In 1414" the Esteban de Carifiena who had been connected with the financial negotiations for an altarpiece at Jerica.' founded a benefice of Sts. Abdon and Sennen in a chapel of the cloister of the cathedral of Segorbe, and in 1436 a Valero de Medina established there a second benefice in honor of his patron, St. Valerius. The derivation of the Vall de Almonacid retable from this chapel would seem well-nigh in- disputably demonstrated by the fact that, although its principal compartments are, with one excep- tion, devoted to St. Valerius, the exception is a compartment depicting the paired Sts. Abdon and Sennen, whose incongruous presence can scarcely be explained by the great popularity of the twain in the region as heavenly protectors against the scourge of hail, but may easily have been the result of Valero de Medina's desire to include in his donation the memory of the earlier cult. Saralegui adduces grounds for postulating that the retable was given by the canons of the cathedral of Segorbe to Vall de Almonacid in the middle of the nineteenth century, according to a general Spanish custom of relegating to rural parishes works of art that had come to be regarded as anti- quated. Inasmuch as it would not in all probability have been painted before the creation of the benefice of St. Valerius in 1436, the ascertained chronological limits of Lorenzo Zaragoza's activity from I364 to 1402" show that he could not have still been exercising his profession in this year.

    To the artist whom we cannot call, therefore, by a more precise name than the Almonacid Master, I am strongly disposed, as I have said, to attribute another work, a charming panel of the Madonna and music-making angels in the collection of Mr. Marius de Zayas at Stamford,

    i. Archivo de arte valenciano, xxII, 1936, p. 28, n. i. 2. p.

    5.580. 3. Saralegui in the article in the Archizvo de arte valenciano gives the date as 1410, but the Latin list of benefices in the cathedral of Segorbe and churches of the diocese drawn up in 1596 and graciously copied for me by Saralegui sets down the year as 1414.

    4. My History of Spanish Painting, vi, pp. 575-576. 5. In my History of Spanish Painting, II, pp. 377-378; and

    vill, pp. 584-585. In Anales y Boletin de los Museos de Arte de Barcelona, III, 1945, p. 329, J. M. Madurell adds to our information about Lorenzo Zaragoza the fact that in I370 he did a lost retable for the parish church of Sta. Eulalia de Provensana at Barcelona.

    This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 07:17:07 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



    Connecticut (Fig. I). In the midst of a general agreement with his style, a mode of painting that conforms to what we find, with scarcely tangible shades of difference, in all the painters in the milieu of Nicolau and Marzal de Sas, it is the nature of the countenances of the Virgin and Child that constitutes the distinctive note of identity, for they have a highly individual, pinched, and snooping character, oddly neglectful of ordinary standards of human pulchritude, which, perhaps originating in a similar tendency of Marzal, is typical of many of the figures in the Almonacid retable, for instance, especially, the St. Valerius in the compartment of his ordination of Sts. Vincent and Lawrence (Fig. 2). In addition, the geometrical pattern in the tiling upon which the Virgin sits is very rare in Spanish paintings of the time, but turns out to be not very diverse from the design in the pavement beneath the central effigy of St. Valerius (Fig. 5).6

    The picture belonging to Mr. de Zayas certainly affords no further evidence, to say the least, in

    support of the mere hypothesis7 that the Almonacid Master might conceivably have been the author of the retable of the Madonna, St. Martin, and St. Agatha at Jerica, by whomever this retable was executed, by Lorenzo Zaragoza, by Antonio Perez, or by someone else. Of the works that I

    assigned in Volume vIs to the general orbit of Lorenzo Zaragoza and the Almonacid Master, the

    only one that I should now like to retain for the latter with any degree of conviction is the panel of Sts. Francis and Catherine in the Provincial Museum, Valencia.'


    At a later period in the evolution of the school, the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century, a number of painters at Valencia derived their manners from the style that the so-called Perea Master established in the city; and, inasmuch as I have come upon another produc- tion by the member of this circle responsible for the works that I have registered in Volume vI"o of

    my History of Spanish Painting as Group B, it will make for clarity if I distinguish him by a

    sobriquet. We should naturally base the title upon his principal recognized achievement, the retable from the church of S. Juan del Hospital at Valencia that with the rest of the possessions of the Diocesan Museum perished in the civil war;" but a name thus chosen would be too unwieldy or insufficiently specific, and so I fall back upon a pseudonym suggested by the town, Castellnovo, where there are (or, were?)"2 to be seen three sections of an altarpiece of St. Ives by his hand.3 The additional work that I venture with confidence to assign to him is a panel in the Silberman

    Galleries, New York, depicting the much-loved Valencian theme, otherwise rare in Christian

    art, Christ presenting the redeemed of the old dispensation to his mother after the harrowing of Hell (Fig. 3)."1 The whole right side of the composition is practically lifted from the Perea

    Master's rendering of the subject,15 but the types throughout the panel conform rather to the Castellnovo Master's slight modifications of his teacher's models. To select only two from many examples, the patriarch looking directly out at us in the back row repeats the Saviour in the Last

    Supper of the retable of S. Juan del Hospital, and the upturned, youthful countenance at the extreme left of the picture should be compared with the St. Francis at this retable's center (Fig. 6). It is to be noted also that the diaper in the textile hung over the altar beside which the Virgin kneels

    6. In the retable in the Gallery at Kansas City, perhaps by Nicol'iu and his shop (cf. my Vol. IX, p. 759), the edging of the tiling in the principal compartment is identical with that upon which St. Valerius stands. Saralegui kindly sug- gests to me in a letter, in the most provisional manner, that the Almonacid Master may have collaborated with Nicoliu in the Kansas City retable, but the resemblances, other than in accessories such as the tiling, seem to me very dim.

    7. My Vol. vI, p. 580. 8. ibid., pp. 572ff. 9. Vol. iii of my History, fig. 301.

    10. p. 440.

    ii. It is reported that some fragments from the Museum were rescued, bu