Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 52



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The impact of Jan van Eyck’s lost Lomellini Triptych and his Genoese patrons
The impact of Jan van Eyck’s lost Lomellini Triptych and his Genoese patrons
Solà’s indebtedness to Van Eyck’s lost Annunciation
becomes most obvious, however, in what may seem to be
secondary elements. He seems to have found the structure
of the lost original’s trompe-l’oeil architecture particularly
suited to his commission, and includes pillars as a framing
device on both wings of his painting. Following his
source, he also includes statues of prophets on the right
wing of his diptych, and adds three allegorical figures
– probably allusions to pagan gods? – on the left.
Like Koerbeke, Solà presumably never got to see
the painting by Van Eyck in person. Instead he
became aware of its composition indirectly. Members
of the workshop of King Alfonso’s court painter
Jacomart probably gained access to Van Eyck’s
original whilst in Naples, bringing copy drawings
back to Valencia.83 These drawings, or copies thereof,
probably did not record every detail, but must have
begun to circulate in Catalunya with some delay as
well. Probably oblivious to its origin, Ramon Solà
could have encountered such a copy when he worked
in Barcelona’s Royal Palace alongside the painters
Antoni Dalmau and Jaume Huguet, the latter
producing the retable of The Epiphany for Pedro of
Portugal in 1464-1465.84
In contrast to Huguet’s Annunciation – where God the
Father emerges from the clouds on the left side of both
figures – Solá positions the divine apparition once more
between the two protagonists, as both Jos Amman and
Barthélémy d’Eyck had done following Van Eyck. It is
interesting to note that as in d’Eyck’s Aix Annunciation
we find the motif of a rose window prominently
represented by Solà who introduces this detail on both
panels. This raises the question of whether Van Eyck’s
composition included such a window which, in turn,
was omitted in Joos Amman’s Annunciation.
Other elements of the lost triptych were also
inf luential. The representations of Saint Jerome in
Indeed, Huguet’s Annunciation from this retable (fig. 19)
betrays his awareness of the Eyckian prototype as
revealed in the wall painting from Genoa. The pose
of the Virgin, her hands crossed before her body,
is similar to that of the mural of Santa Maria di
Castello, as is the frontal position of the prayer stool
and the lower viewpoint from which the book on it
is depicted. Further parallels can be found in single
motifs such as the Valencian tiles, and the pyxes,
books and a candleholder displayed next to the
Virgin. Most significantly Huguet – like Amman
– includes an arched doorway behind the Virgin
through which it is possible to glimpse into the
bedchamber with Mary’s canopied bed.
Fig. 19 / Jaume Huguet,
Annuciation, 1464,
tempera on panel,
Barcelona, chapel of
Santa Ágata.
Born in Girona sometime between 1431 and 1442 as
the second son of the painter Ramon Solà the Elder,
he was still a minor in 1456 when he was charged
with completing a commission if his father died
before it was finished. He then moved to Barcelona
where he was involved in the decoration of the Royal
Palace in Barcelona for Pedro, Constable of Portugal
and acclaimed King of Aragon during the Catalan
Civil War. He returned to Girona in 1471 and died
there after 1494.82
Ramon Solà’s Annunciation adopts another approach
towards the prototype and takes it as a model for
his composition. The arrangement of his figures
seems to more closely ref lect the original. Gabriel
enters through a door from the left, raising his right
hand and holding the sceptre with his other arm.
The Virgin leans her head towards him, her arms
crossed before her body, while the dove of the Holy
Ghost descends upon her. The lavish prayer stool
that obstructs the view in the Genoa fresco has the
been moved to the right side. It nevertheless includes
typical “Flemish” still-life motifs like books and
pyxes placed on shelves in the wall.
Fig. 20 / Niccolò Antonino
Colantonio, Saint Jerome
in his Study, ca. 1445,
tempera on panel, Naples,
Museo Nazionale di
Capodimonte.
51
his study and Saint John the Baptist were also praised
by Facio for their illusionistic qualities. The lost
representation of Jerome is particularly interesting
for the reception history of the painting. Among
the few works that can be attributed to Colantonio
on the evidence of near contemporary documents
is a monumental painting of Saint Jerome, today in
Naples’s Museo di Capodimonte (fig. 20).85 Pietro
Summonte, in his famous letter to Marcantonio
Michel of 1524, provides some information about
Colantonio who was skilled in emulating the
northern masters and had been taught by King René
himself during his short reign from 1438 and 1442.
Summonte describes with much admiration how
Colantonio’s Jerome contained a painted cartellino
that was fixed to the wall but was detaching on one
edge – a feature that can be easily recognized in
the painting.86 Colantonio’s Saint Jerome is arranged
horizontally. It represents the Father of the Church
in the modest garments of the Franciscan order
instead of the red robe of a Cardinal; the red galero
– the only pictorial reference to Jerome’s rank in the
ecclesiastical hierarchy – is placed on a small table
next to the saint’s writing desk.

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