Made in Spain during the 16th century, these two important panels of altarpieces are made of wood carved in bas-reliefs, polychrome and gilded "a l'estofado".
This type of work required the use of different precise skills requiring collaboration between different artists, attached to different guilds.
Indeed, if the sculpted base was made in a specialized workshop, the application of paint was done by different painters. They divided their work between the realization of the skin and that of the clothes, according to the estofado technique, which consisted in affixing gold leaves that were then covered with several layers of paint and finally scratched to reveal golden elements.
Finally, the last stage was the "encarnaciòn", a technique that consists of a large amount of pictorial work to "give life" to the work.
With this division of tasks and this precision of creation, our pieces are a perfect testimony to the plastic apogee of which Charles Davillier, considered the "rediscoverer" of Spanish art in the 19th century, is known. Indeed, in his work Les arts décoratifs en Espagne au Moyen Âge et à la Renaissance in 1879, he wrote: "The art of woodcarving was practiced in Spain from the Middle Ages, but it is especially from the fifteenth century that it shone with great brilliance".
Beyond the technical aspect, these altarpiece elements stand out for their iconography. They present two adoration, on the one hand that of the shepherds with the baby Jesus and on the other that of the Magi. Our two scenes take place in an architectural context, with semicircular arches of great sobriety in the background, recalling the simplicity of the stable in which Jesus was born.
The first panel thus presents the sheperds surrounding the cradle of Christ, overhung by the Virgin, St Joseph, the donkey and the ox. Two of them, in the foreground, are crouching, while a third, to the right of the composition, removes his hat as a sign of deference. Finally, on the left is as angle, probably the one mentioned in the Gospel according to St. Luke, who warns the shepherds of Jesus birth. He is represented as a musical angel, playing the bagpipes, an instrument symbolic of musical spirituality that elevates the human soul.
On the second panel, the Magi surround Christ. They arrive about ten days after Christmas, on January 7, Jesus is no longer a newborn baby, but sits on the Virgin's lap, next to Joseph in prayer. The three Magi wear luxurious clothes and wear turbans or crowns (placed at the feet of the holy family), in reference to their status. They are represented according to the custom offering the traditional gifts. Balthazar, to the left of the composition, brings gold, Gaspard, to his left, myrrh (a perfume used to embalm the dead in antiquity) and finally, in the foreground Melchior incense, symbolizing respectively royalty, mortal condition and divine essence. In the upper right corner is the star of the shepherd who guided the two groups to Christ.
These two biblical episodes are major in Christian theology because they testify to the recognition of the Messiah, both by the humblest of humans that are the shepherds but also by kings from the East. According to the Gospels of Saint Matthew (2:1-12) and Luke (2:8-20), these two social categories, diametrically opposed, are guided by the same star to the manger of Nazareth, to pay homage to the "king of the Jews". Their place on an altarpiece, certainly narrating the story of Christ's life, offers the believer the certainty of a closeness to God, and by extension an accessibility of divine love. Jesus, born man to save humanity, his recognition by his peers reinforces his sacrifice.
Delevery information :
Please note that packing and shipping costs are not included in the price of the objects which are quoted ex shop.
Final amount including packing and shipment to be discussed with Galerie Alexandre Piatti.
14 000 €