Colnaghi Foundation Journal 02 - Page 125

Rediscovering the Master of the Saint George and the Princess: new paintings
Rediscovering the Master of the Saint George and the Princess: new paintings
His beard – ethereal and delicate, the disheveled hair
rendered with glazes – is very similar to that of Saint
John the Baptist in Siresa. All the figures present the
same melancholy look, with half-opened eyes and
white eyeballs which contrast with light brown irises
and black pupils. The same type of relationship applies
to noses, lips, eyebrows, and earlobes which are again
resolved in a similar manner. In some cases even the
shading at the level of the cheekbones is identical to
that in the Prado panel.
mouths, painted schematically in a soft carmine tone,
with the lips separated by a simple black line. In some
of the faces, the painter has added light touches of
white also found in the prophet in the Prado, the
panels in Siresa, and in other paintings that we will
discuss below.
Saint Peter’s beard has been painted in a similar way
to that of Saint John the Baptist in San Pedro de
Siresa, the many tiny brushstrokes making it appear
sparse. The ear is treated analogously to that of the
Archangel Gabriel in an Annunciation discussed below.
In addition to this, a small compositional detail
should be noted: the circular shield that Malchus
holds with his left hand and rests on the ground, a
solution identical (even in terms of the morphology
of the shield itself) to that in the Betrayal auctioned at
Christie’s. Malchus’s face also repeats the caricatural
and expressive features found in some of the soldiers
in the panel sold by Christie’s, for example, the
upturned nose and protruding eyes reinforcing the
negative portrayal of this figure.
Another work that can be added to the catalogue is a
second unpublished painting on the same theme, the
Betrayal of Christ (fig. 7). At the time of writing, this panel
was on the market in Madrid (José Alavedra, Galería
Bernat), having come from a German collection. It
presents only the left part of the composition, with
Saint Peter raising his arm, sword in hand, preparing to
cut off Malchus’s ear, the latter lying on his hands and
knees on the ground, and three soldiers standing in the
background. One of them carries a lantern in his hand,
while another shows a shield bearing the heraldic gold
and gules of Aragon. In the upper part of the fragment
there are important remains of the original gold ground
with reliefs of vegetal motifs made from embossed and
gilded stucco as well as carefully-executed punching.
The nimbus of Saint Peter, articulated from concentric
semi-circles similar to those we have seen previously, is
also executed by means of embossed gesso reliefwork.
The fragment is composed of four conifer boards laid
horizontally, indicating that it almost certainly comes
from a predella. Remains of gesso and hemp fibres
applied to counteract the contractions and expansions
of the wood are visible on the reverse. The use of
wedges in the joins between the boards – again to avoid
damage from movement of the wood – is also evident.
These wedges, like the aforementioned gesso and fibre
preparation, were not intended to eliminate movement
completely, but instead to ensure that it did not damage
the polychrome surface.37
The style, once again, identifies the painting as a
new work by the Master of Saint George and the
Princess. The faces of the soldiers are directly related
to the Prophet Daniel in the Museo del Prado, with
noses typical of the painter. Peter’s gaze, likewise, is
characterized by the same melancholy look described
above relating to the depiction of half-opened eyes.
Parallels can also be made with the Saint George and
the Princess in this respect and in the treatment of the
Fig. 7 / Master of Saint
George and the Princess,
Betrayal of Christ (fragment),
56.5 x 19 x 2.5 cm, Madrid,
Galería Bernat.
Figs. 8a & 8b / Master
of Saint George and the
Princess, Annunciation, 59.5
x 36.5 cm, Saragossa, Museo
de Zaragoza.
Further works can be added to this group. Among these
are an additional two panels (each measuring 59.5 x
36.5 cm) of the Virgin Mary and Archangel Gabriel
which together comprise an Annunciation. These panels
were acquired some years ago by the Government
of Aragon and are today in the Museo de Zaragoza
(figs. 8a & 8b). They were auctioned in December
2009 in Barcelona (Balclis, lot number 1018), listed in
the catalogue as the work of an anonymous Aragonese
painter ca. 1460 in the circle of Arnau de Castellnou.
Until then the panels had only been known through
old photographs 38 and were described as belonging
to the collection of the painter Marian Espinal
(1897-1974).39 Surprisingly, the literature has paid
little attention to these works other than several
brief mentions.40 The paintings were included in the
doctoral thesis of Guadaira Macías (2013), in which
the author affirmed that despite similarities with the
Master of Saint George and the Princess, the panels
could not be attributed to this painter. Instead, Macías
suggested – albeit in an equivocal manner – that they
could be placed in the orbit of Bernardo de Arás.41


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