Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 126

Pedro Orrente and the Nine Worthies
Pedro Orrente and the Nine Worthies
The third Worthy of the Jewish triad is Judas
Maccabeus, son of the Hebrew priest Mattathias, who
led the brilliantly planned revolt of the Maccabees
against the Seleucid Empire of Syria (167-160 BC).
The Books of the Maccabees provide a full account of
the historical reality of this daring biblical leader and
his battles. The Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes
issued decrees that hindered or directly forbade the
Jews’ religious practices. Particularly celebrated among
Judas Maccabeus’s military deeds in the written texts are
the defeat and death of Apollonius who had recently
conquered and sacked Jerusalem. Maccabeus was
also successful in his victories over the Syrian generals
Gorgias, Nicanor, Timotheos, Bacchides, and Lysias.
The figure of Judas Maccabeus can be identified in
a painting (present whereabouts unknown), which
was correctly attributed to Orrente by Alfonso Pérez
Sánchez on the basis of a photograph (fig. 10) and
intuitively described as a biblical figure.24 In this
instance the composition lacks a Latin text at the top
identifying the subject, as in the other examples of
this series. It is possible that the canvas was cut down
at the top at some point, resulting in the removal
of the inscription, but it is not possible to state this
conclusively given that the dimensions are unknown.
Fig. 10 / Pedro Orrente, Judas
Maccabeus, (present location
Fig. 11 / Workshop of Orrente,
Judas Maccabeus, oil on
canvas, 153 x 116 cm, Alginet
(Valencia), Private Collection.
Orrente depicts the valorous Judas Maccabeus as a virile
bearded man, shown in profile and wearing a cap. Using
a wide range of compositional devices, the artist avoids
any sense of static frontality, offering an extremely
dynamic portrayal of the soldier, who is seen engaged
in action with his shield held high and firmly grasping
his sword. A replica produced by the artist’s studio
survives in a private collection in Alginet (Valencia), with
the hero (fig. 11) identified by the inscription JVDAS
MAC. This canvas forms part of a group consisting of
Charlemagne, King Arthur, Hector of Troy, and Alexander the
Great. All executed by the studio of Orrente, these were
once in the collection of the lawyer Vicent Greus Roig
and all have the same dimensions (153 x 116 cm).


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