Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 27

J OA N D E J OA N E S / Holy Family
Fig. 4 / Joan de Joanes,
The Last Supper (predella
panel from the Saint Eligius
Altarpiece), 1534, oil on
panel, Valencia, Museo de
Bellas Artes.
A likely explanation that would clarify the roles played
by Vicent and the young Joan in the production of the
altarpiece for the high altar of Segorbe Cathedral is
that Macip the Elder was the only individual in the
family workshop who paid the royal tax and therefore
could legitimately receive payment for the work. His
son, meanwhile, still legally under parental control, had
evolved a modern and clearly individual style within
the context of Spanish Renaissance; his assimilation
of both Flemish models and the works by Sebastiano
del Piombo brought to Valencia by Ambassador Vich
resulted in a unique fusion that was extremely wellreceived in Joanes’s native region.
Joan de Joanes’s fame and critical fortune persisted
some years after his death. He was included as an
illustrious Valencian by Gaspar Joan Escolano in his
Décadas de la historia general de Valencia (1610-1611): “And
finally, in painting, the great Joanes, stood out among
all those who have flourished in Spain and was equal
to the best Italians.”20 In his biographical account of
Joan de Joanes, Antonio Palomino associated him with
Raphael and Luis de Morales:
J OA N D E J OA N E S / Holy Family
He was a pupil of Raphael of
Urbino, and also imitated El Divino
Morales, but with such superior
excellence in comparison to the
two that he exceeded them in the
beauty and fineness of the colour
and in the physiognomies, equalling
them in every other respect; and
it is only in this respect that they
can be distinguished. This is fully
demonstrated by the life-size Saint
Francis of Paula, on panel, which is
in the Monastery of his Order, Saint
Sebastian in Valencia, outside the
walls of that city: the beauty of which
is so divine that it defies all human
intelligence; and we could easily
convince ourselves that it is a real
portrait, as it seems that Christ our
Lord could have no other appearance,
because this is the most beautiful that
could exist among the sons of men.
No less beautiful is that of Saint
Agnes in the chapel of Saint Francis
of Borja, and three more by his hand
belonging to the Augustinian nuns
of San Julián in the chapel of Saint
Thomas of Villanueva. And the one
in the centre, which is square, is of the
Nativity, and there is the burial of the
venerable Mosén Bautista Agnesio, its
very devout chaplain. And also the one
in the sanctuary of the chapel of the
Communion of the Carmelite church
of that city, where there are many
others of the Saviour, and all very
similar, and with such superior beauty
that with more justification than
Morales he could usurp the reputation
of Divine, given that in addition to
the fact that all his paintings are on
holy subjects, the style was very sweet,
the line masterly, the beauty unique
and the treatment of the hairs on
the heads and beards so subtle that it
seems that if they were blown on, they
would move.21
Joan de Joanes’s artistic stature as one of the most
important and celebrated Renaissance painters in
Spain derives largely from the fact that he remained
Fig. 5 / Joan de Joanes,
The Virgin of the
Venerable Agnesio, oil
on panel, 77 x 174 cm,
Valencia, Museo de
Bellas Artes.
Fig. 6 / (overleaf) Joan
de Joanes, Holy Family
(detail), oil on panel,
acquired from Colnaghi
in 2017 by a Private
in the region of Valencia, where he was able first
to assimilate aspects of the Flemish style and
subsequently that of Sebastiano del Piombo. In
addition, his work reveals a familiarity with Raphael’s
school (possibly through early copies or prints). This
study of foreign models resulted in a unique style
that incorporated original compositional solutions,
executed with a level of quality and technique so
closely resembling the formal ideal that some authors
have suggested (without any documentary basis) that
the artist trained in Italy.
altarpieces, are particularly notable within his corpus
of small-format paintings. In the present example,
the support is a pine panel. In other instances, Joanes
used Baltic oak for small-scale works, like the Judgment
of Paris in Udine (Civici Musei e Gallerie di Storia
e Arte),23 the Virgin of the Venerable Agnesio (Museo de
Bellas Artes de Valencia) (fig. 5),24 and the Portrait of
Alfonso the Magnanimous (Museo de Zaragoza).25 These
paintings on oak demonstrate the existence of trade
and artistic exchange between Valencia and Flanders
from the fifteenth century onwards.
The aesthetic formulated by Joanes, which proved
tremendously successful during his lifetime judging
from his numerous public and private commissions,
was continued by various followers: most notably by his
son, Vicent Joanes, but also by Gaspar Requena who
collaborated with Joanes on the altarpiece for the high
altar of the church of the Natividad in La Font de la
Figuera (Valencia) in 1550; by Miguel Joan Porta; by
Cristóbal Llorens; and by the Hieronymite fray, Nicolás
Borrás, who described Joanes as “my tutor and very
dear master.”22
In the present work, Joanes focuses on the
characterization of Christ’s family, placing the
holy figures in the immediate foreground of the
composition. The naked Christ Child is seated on the
Virgin’s lap, stretching out his arm towards the apple
offered to him by his mother. His pose and appearance
are particularly striking, the infant turning his head
towards the bunch of narcissi (narcissus dubius) offered to
him by Saint Joseph. Jesus has a halo of two circles with
rays radiating outwards, a typical motif used by Joanes
in his depiction of holy figures (fig. 6).
The previously unpublished Holy Family (see fig.1) (oil
on panel, 58.5 x 49.5 cm) diplays the stylistic traits
of Joanes’s work in the period around 1540-1550.
Other depictions of this theme by Joanes, produced
for private devotion rather than as panels within
Mary’s head is partly covered but still reveals long
golden hair and a centre-parting. Following Joanes’s
typical representation of the Virgin, her head is slightly
tilted and her eyes half-open as she looks towards the
Christ Child with his golden, curly hair.


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