Lot 99

BARTOLOME DE CASTRO (School of Castile around 1510-1520) Attributed to the temptation of Saint Antoine Saint Blaise Pair of reinforced fir panels, altarpiece panels 75 x 55 cm Old restorations and slits, missing Frameless In the foreground, Saint Blaise is represented standing three-quarters in front of a parapet where fine stones are scattered, parapet which separates it from a wide architectural and wooded landscape dominated by a bright sky where some dark clouds linger. He is dressed in a white dress fitted at the waist and covered with a sumptuous vermilion cap edged with orphreys. His head is crowned with a simple golden line and topped with a mitre decorated with gems. His hands are gloved and banded, the left holds the pastoral staff with the sudarium (fabric protecting the latter from the wetness of his hands) whose butt is delicately goldsmithery while the right hand has a huge fish bone. Saint Anthony Abbot (251-356) was patron saint of the Antonine hospital order created in 1247, governed by the rule of Saint Augustine. Represented as a hermit, with a shaved head and a thick beard, he sits in front of a rocky landscape at the foot of a leafless tree in the desert where he wanted to isolate himself from the world and live as an ascetic, he is tempted by the demon presented here in the form of an elegant and seductive "devil" young woman wearing an amazing horned cap, he pushes her away with his right hand raised while indicating the Holy Scriptures to him with his left hand. If the identification of the scene of St Anthony's Temptation does not suffer from hesitation, being the painted transcription of the same scene engraved by Lucas de Leiden in 1509 (The Illustrated Bartsch, New York 1981, Vol. 12, 117, p. 251), the identity of the holy bishop remains more enigmatic. We propose to see the representation of Saint Blaise, doctor and bishop of Redfish in Armenia who was martyred in 316 by tearing off his skin with iron combs. These instruments are usually its attribute. The enormous fish bone presented with ostentation must allude to the miracle scene narrated by the Golden Legend where a young child strangled himself while swallowing a fish bone was healed by the miraculous intervention of Saint Blaise. Unreleased, our panels were probably initially part of an altarpiece intended for a hospital chapel because these two healers were invoked against the "fire" of the disease: Blaise, soothed sore throats, Antoine the fire of the "ardent" caused by the rye ergot. The "deviless", for her part, illustrated the saint's resistance to the "fire" of lust. According to Isabel Mateo Gomez (written communication), the fine stones scattered near Saint Blaise are an allusion to the abandonment of pleasures. The presentation of the characters of imposing proportions occupying the foreground of these paintings in front of a background of wooded hills dotted with distant architecture, the particular attention paid to the ornamental effects of draperies and goldsmith objects, the shimmering chromatic palette under the effect of strong light, allow us to situate the execution of these panels in Castile at the beginning of the 16th century, close to the works of Bartolomé de Castro, an artist working in the Palencia region, at the crossroads of Gothic and Renaissance, in the general movement of Pedro Berruguete and a whole series of small masters with convention names (Astorga, Becerril, Cueza...) but undoubtedly strongly influenced by Fernando Gallego's exacerbated style. Isabel Mateo Gomez is responsible for the publication of the catalogue of this artist's works (cf. "Bartolomé de Castro : formacion y estilo", Boletin del Seminario de Estudios de Arte y Arqueologia, Vol. 68, 2002, p. 199-224) In architectural compositions with limited space or in landscapes with bright, delicately raised skies, this artist introduces in the foreground characters of high stature, faces with large shaded areas, marked by large eyes often surrounded by frozen eyes, sometimes grimaceous, abundant hair and long undulating beards, they are dressed in rich costumes with brittle folds, wearing hats or caps and crowned with a simple golden circle. In particular, our two Saints Blaise and Antoine are particularly close to Bartolomé's late production, whose panels of the Annunciation, the Nativity and Adoration of the Magi were associated with Saint Dominic signed by the artist, works from San Pablo de Palencia, all kept at the Museo Lazaro Galdiano in Madrid (cf. José Camon Aznar, "Bartolomé de Castro en el Museo Lazaro Galdiano", Goya, n°67, 1965, p. 30-32 repr.) In addition to the similar composition, there are occasional repetitions of the panels mentioned, such as the face with the devil's curved upper forehead, which recalls that of the Virgin in the Nativity, or in the Adoration of the Magi, the architecture of the castle emerging to the right of the king as well as the ornamentation of his hat returning respectively behind the devil of Saint Anthony or in the crosier of Saint Blaise, our saints remain however described with more severity in expressions, more simplicity in the treatment of faces, drapes and the evocation of nature. Given the use of Lucas de Leiden's engraving dated 1509, we will be able to place the execution of our panels some time after that date. Expert: Cabinet Turquin