Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 64

Fathers in Limbo (Granados Collection); the paired panels of Mary
The fruit scattered around the bird on the marble ledge in the
Magdalene Anointing in the House of Simon (fig. 6.1) and a Noli me Tangere
foreground recalls Flemish and Italian models associated with
(fig. 6.2) from a small altarpiece formerly with the Servite nuns
Marian images and recurs in the above-mentioned panel by the
in Sagunta (Museo diocesano de Valencia); a panel depicting the
artist depicting Mary Magdalene Anointing in the House of Simon.
Attributes of the Passion (Gandía, Palacio Ducal); a fragment with
Apostles from an Agony in the Garden (Fundación Bancaixa); the
The under-drawing visible to the naked eye on the Virgin’s sleeve
Dormition of the Virgin (Guadalest, Town Hall); a Christ as the Man
makes distinctive use of parallel hatching lines. The knife-shaped
of Sorrows (Private Collection, England); and the dispersed panels
folds of the drapery covering Mary’s head appear in other works by
from an altarpiece of Saint James the Greater (Dublin, National
the artist including the Archangel Michael (Valencia, Museo de Bellas
Gallery of Ireland and the Laia Bosch Collection).
Artes): they are also occasionally present in the tunics of the angels
in the panel of the Attributes of the Passion (Gandía, Palacio Ducal).
In the early decades of the sixteenth century the Master of Alzira
The hair and infants’ chubby cheeks are characteristic of the artist
played a significant role in the dissemination of new stylistic
and similiar features appear in the panels of Saint Estirpe (Laia Bosch
principles influenced by Italian and Flemish artistic innovations,
Collection) and the Holy Family (Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland).
which were favoured by the cathedral chapter and the humanist
Another frequently recurring element in the artist’s oeuvre is the tree
circle associated with the viceregal court of Don Fernando de
with a dry branch outlined against blue sky, which is also present in
Aragón, Duke of Calabria, and his wife Mencía de Mendoza.
the Allegory of the Human Passions (Budapest) and the Apparition of the
The present work is striking for its volumetric forms and strongly
Virgin to Saint James the Greater (Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland).
coloured figures. The composition repeats a device frequently
employed by the Master of Alzira, namely the organization figures
From the remains of an inscription on the panel of The Judgement
along a succession of receding planes. The figural group includes
of Saint James in the Laia Bosch Collection we can deduce that the
the Virgin supporting the Infant Christ, who is holding an apple,
actual name of the so-called Master of Alzira ended with the letters
while the Infant Baptist is shown in profile, wearing his hair shirt
“RA”. Isabel Mateo has suggested that he can be identified with
and positioned before Saint Joseph. The latter’s face recalls models
the painter Juan Boyra, who is documented working for Valencia
by Sebastiano del Piombo, whose work was known in Valencia
Cathedral in 1511.3 This suggestion is more plausible than that of
through examples in the collection of Jerónimo Vich i Valterra.
Cebrián, who proposed an identification with the painter Diego
Barrera, active for a period in the city of Xàtiva.4
An interest in classicizing architecture and structural elements is
evident in a number of the artist’s paintings, as demonstrated here
Paintings of this type depicting the Holy Family with the Infant
in the marble parapet, elegant wooden lectern, and niches housing
Saint John the Baptist were intended for private devotion and
sculpted figures, just visible behind the tree trunk along the right
not related to large-scale altarpieces. In the context of Valencia,
edge of the panel. The elongated proportions of these sculptural
they were produced by the Hernandos, Paolo de San Leocadio,
figures recall the grisailles on the doors of Mary Magdalene Anointing
his sons Felipe Pablo and Miguel Joan, Miguel Esteve, Vicente
in the House of Simon and the Noli me Tangere (both Museo diocesano
Macip, and his son Joan Macip, better known as Joan de Joanes.
de Valencia). Like the apple, the goldfinch positioned in the centre
of the parapet, on axis with the infant Christ, symbolizes the
J osé G ómez F rechina
Saviour’s Passion.
Fig. 6.1 Maestro de Alzira,
Mary Magdalene Anointing in the
House of Simon, oil on panel,
150 x 46.7 cm, Valencia, Museo
de la catedral de Valencia.
Fig. 6. 2 Maestro de
Alzira, Noli me Tangere, oil
on panel, 150 x 46.7 cm,
Valencia, Museo de la
catedral de Valencia.
Elias Tormo y Monzó, Levante (Provincias Valencianas y Murcianas (Murcia: Calpe, 1923), p. 201.
Chandler Rafthon Post, A History of Spanish Painting, The Valencian School in the Early
Renaissance, 14 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Havard University Press, 1953), XI, pp. 289-297.
Isabel Mateo Gómez, “Algo más sobre la Alegoria de las Pasiones Humanas del
Museo de Budapest,” Ars Longa 20 (1994): pp. 21-23
Josep Lluís Cebrián i Molina, “Setze taules del Mestre d’ Alzira (Barrera lo
pintor?) a Xàtiva,” L’ informador de la Costera 307 (2007): p. 20.


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