Colnaghi Foundation Journal 02 - Page 130



130
Rediscovering the Master of the Saint George and the Princess: new paintings
Rediscovering the Master of the Saint George and the Princess: new paintings
the pommel of the dagger stuck into Mary’s chest, in the
pincers and hammer, and in the nail that still remains in
one of the arms of the Cross. The chromatic range used
is typical of the Master of Saint George and the Princess,
for example in the red and green tones of the characters’
clothing. The green reproduces the colour of Saint
Sebastian’s calzas in Gaasbeek, while the red recalls Saint
George’s bonnet in the Barcelona panel and the garment
of the Prophet Daniel in the Museo del Prado.
One of the most remarkable aspects of this painting
is its repertoire of faces (fig. 12). Some are to be found
in other works by the painter, such as that of the male
figure holding the pincers which recalls Saint Sebastian
Fig. 11 / Master of Saint
George and the Princess,
Lamentation over the Dead
Christ, 56 x 80 cm, Sitges
(Barcelona), Museu Maricel.
Fig. 12 / Master of Saint
George and the Princess,
Lamentation over the
Dead Christ (detail), Sitges
(Barcelona), Museu Maricel.
Fig. 13 / Master of Saint
George and the Princess,
Lamentation over the
Dead Christ (detail), Sitges
(Barcelona), Museu Maricel.
as well as from the way she holds the bloodied wrist
of her Son; it is further emphasized by a symbolic
dagger stuck in her breast. The body of Christ is
arranged diagonally, with his back slightly raised so
that Mary supports it with her right hand (which is
not visible). Christ’s body is naked, although a delicate
veil of transparent gauze, of great visual effect,
covers his pubis and part of his legs. He does not rest
directly on Mary’s blue mantle but on a white shroud
held at the edges by Saint John the Evangelist and
the Magdalene. In the background are other figures
common to pictorial representations of the episode.
Two of them are Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus,
who hold a hammer and pincers, underlining their
role in taking Jesus down from the Cross. They have
polygonal haloes as conventional in representations of
characters of the Old Law. The remaining two figures
are female and can be identified with two Marys or
“Holy Women”, normally identified as Mary Salome
and Mary Cleopas.
The figures are represented in the foreground,
occupying a large part of the composition and leaving
little space for the representation of Golgotha. On
the right side, a landscape is suggested through a few
geographical features. The horizon is quite high so that
the sky, with a brown, twilight hue, sits a little more
than half way up the panel. The upper section has been
rendered with many little diagonal lines, as in the Saint
George and the Princess.
From the point of view of decoration, one of the details
that draws the viewer’s attention is the prominence of
the haloes which occupy a large part of the pictorial
surface. Their presence is so overwhelming that they
almost obscure the Cross from which Christ has been
taken down. All (except those of Joseph of Arimathea
and Nicodemus) are based on concentric forms. They
are the result of the same procedure already described
in embossed and gesso gilded with gold metal leaf. This
technique has also been used in smaller details such as in
131
in Gaasbeek, and the soldier to the right of Christ in
the Betrayal auctioned at Christie’s. The figure’s nose
and mouth, in addition, recur in the prophet in the
Prado. The prominent and thick beard, with its loose,
individually depicted hairs, has been painted in the
same way as that of Saint James in one of the panels
in Siresa, and of Saint Paul formerly preserved in the
Kaiser Friederich Museum in Berlin. The face of Saint
John the Evangelist is very similar to that of Gabriel in
the Annunciation of the Museo de Zaragoza, while that
of the male figure holding the hammer (fig. 13) finds
a good parallel in the Saint Louis of Toulouse from
Berlin. The latter presents a completely uncovered ear,
with a very wide auditory canal, identical to that of the
aforementioned Saint Paul and those of the donors of
the altarpiece of Saint George and the Princess. The face
of Christ, in turn, resembles that of the Saint John the
Baptist formerly in Berlin, especially in the treatment of
facial features.
The female faces, on the other hand, have fewer
parallels in the works already attributed to the master.
Neither the Princess from the Barcelona panel, nor the
female donor formerly conserved in Berlin, resemble
the women represented here, apart from very obvious
coincidences of style. The clearest parallels are found
with the Virgin of the Annunciation in the Museo de
Zaragoza which shows some similarities to both the
Magdalene and Mary who puts her finger to her mouth
in the painting from Sitges (fig. 13). The Magdalene’s
long hair is, for example, similar to that of the Virgin
Annunciate in Saragossa.
Another habitual characteristic of the painter that can
be detected in the Sitges Lamentation is the use of slight
touches of white color in certain parts of the faces, such
as the nose, lacrimal area, and other parts of the face.
This technique is used to create highlights, as in the
Daniel in the Museo del Prado, the Annunciation in the
Museo de Zaragoza, the panels in Siresa, and the Betrayal
of Christ on the market in Madrid.
The last of the works presented in this article is a small
panel (39 x 27 cm), with its original frame, depicting
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Benedict Flanking the
Pietà (fig. 14). Based on its small size and iconography,
it is likely to have been intended for private devotion.
It is preserved in the Fundación Francisco Godia
(Barcelona), and

was studied by the present author
a few years ago.54 Until that time this understudied
little work, had been related to Arnau de Castellnou,55

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