Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 180



178
179
Onofre Falcó, a Spanish Renaissance master
Onofre Falcó, a Spanish Renaissance master
JOSÉ GÓMEZ FR EC H I NA
Our knowledge of the artistic personality and life
of the painter Onofre Falcó (active in Valencia from
1536-1560) has increased in the last two decades
with the discovery of new documents that refer to his
professional activities and to various paintings, which
have been plausibly attributed to him on the basis
comparison with known works. Given our broader
understanding of Falco’s activity and oeuvre, this article
aims to provide an outline of his career, attributing
several new works to the artist on the basis of stylistic
and documentary evidence.
Fig. 1 / Onofre Falcó,
Saint Stephen Ordained
as Deacon, 1555-1560, oil
on panel, 160 x 123 cm,
Madrid, Museo Nacional
del Prado.
Onofre Falcó was a contemporary of the painter Joan
Macip, better known as Joan de Joanes (Valencia? ca.
1500 – Bocairent, 1579). Falcó is principally known
for his involvement, together with Joanes, in the
important project to produce the principal altarpiece
for the parish church of San Esteban in Valencia.1
Most of this altarpiece was removed from the church
at the turn of the nineteenth century (entering the
Spanish Royal Collection in 1801 and subsequently
the Museo Nacional del Prado), when Archbishop
Juan del Rio remodelled the presbytery under the
influence of the collecting interests and preferences of
Charles IV. Two scenes from the life of Saint Stephen
(the Agony in the Garden and Crowning with Thorns), which
once formed part of the predella and flanked Joan de
Joanes’s celebrated Last Supper, were the only panels to
remain in the church. Six panels of identical sizes (the
Ordination of Saint Stephen; Saint Stephen in the Synagogue;
The Preaching of Saint Stephen before the Sanhedrin; Saint
Stephen led to his Martyrdom; Stoning of Saint Stephen; and
Burial of Saint Stephen) which were originally located in
the altarpiece’s two principal sections, as well as the
above-mentioned Last Supper from the predella, were
all sent to Madrid, and make a particularly important
contribution to the cataloguing and critical assessment
of the work of Joan de Joanes.2
In his 1979 study of Joan de Joanes, Albi assigned the
Ordination of Saint Stephen (fig.1) to an unidentified artist
that he dubbed the “Anonymous follower of Saint
Stephen” or “Joanesque follower of Saint Stephen”.3 This
painting, together with the two aforementioned predella
panels depicting the Agony in the Garden (fig. 2) and the
Crowning with Thorns (fig. 3) which are clearly by the same
hand, were recently studied by Fernando Benito.4
While acknowledging a scarcity of documentation,
this scholar proposed an attribution to a painter he
named as Vicente Requena the Elder, distinguishing
him from the artist Vicente Requena (Valencia,
1556-1605). The latter, who was influenced by Italian
artists working at the monastery of San Lorenzo de El
Escorial, like Luca Cambiaso (1527-1585), produced
numerous altarpieces and notably the paintings in
the “Ecclesiastical Arm” of the Sala Nova in the
Palacio de la Generalitat in Valencia. 5 Benito’s
suggested attribution of the three associated predella
panels to Vicente Requena the Elder was based on
a documentary note by the Baron of Alcahalí in his
biographical work on Valencian artists.6 Alcahalí cited
a document recording a Vicente Requena (described
as a “famed painter”) as the father of the artist of
the same name. However, it has now been shown
that Alcahalí incorrectly gave the name Vicente to
the artist’s father, who was in fact called Gaspar.

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