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Christ presents the Redeemed from Limbo to the Virgin
Yáñez de la Almedina, Fernando and workshop
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Yáñez de la Almedina, Fernando and workshop

1489, 1536

See author's file

Christ presents the Redeemed from Limbo to the Virgin

1510 - 1518. Oil on panel.
Not on display

In 1954 this work, then in the Adanero Collection, was published by Angulo Íñiguez who unhesitatingly attributed it to Yáñez de la Almedina, or at least, his workshop. This attribution was accepted by Garín Ortiz de Taranco in the second edition of his book on Yáñez (1978), with added mention of its thematic ties to an altarpiece also attributed to that artist in the town of Torrente, near Valencia. Its unquestionable relation to Yáñez de la Almedina lies in its conception and in its development of a subject that was complex, although frequent in Valencian art from that period. Moreover, the figure of the Penitent Thief, at the center of the group of The Blessed, resembles, even physically, the one appearing in Yáñez´s painting at the Valencia Cathedral Museum. In that work, the figure of the sponsor has a bent ear that, in a Morellian sense, would support its attribution to Yáñez through its similarity to the Judgement of a Soul in Palma de Majorca or the kneeling Wise Man in his Epiphany at Cuenca Cathedral, a work in which Fernando Yáñez´s hand is perfectly and individually documented.

Many of the heads closely resemble those of some panels at Valencia Cathedral (Ascension, but also Presentation and Sleeping Virgin), which are, nonetheless, somewhat drier. This allows us to affirm that they are contemporaneous with the doors of the main altarpiece in Valencia, which was contracted and paid by the cathedral administration between 1506 and 1510. In any case, both works are by the two homonymous painters from La Mancha: Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina and Fernando Llanos. As Adela Condorelli affirmed, one of the two was the Ferrante Spagnolo mentioned by Gaye as having collaborated directly with Leonardo da Vinci in the Battle of Anghiari, and this is reflected not only in the faces and postures, but also in their particular sense of elegance, bold foreshortening and even in the exquisiteness and rigor of the bodies, along with a certain air of Giorgione—brilliantly defended by María Luisa Caturla—and of Raphael in the softening of the forms and the broad, real settings, which, as in the present work, perfectly fit the composition. Here, the subject matter suggests this might be one of a group of works, now scattered, that would also include the Resurrection at the museum in Valnecia and some smaller panels from that same museum with subjects related to Christ´s passion and resurrection. Compositionally, this panel´s organization is perfectly Humanist and conceptual, and it visibly distances itself from other practically contemporaneous Valencian works such as the altarpiece by the Master of Perca—painted at the very end of the 15th century—that is now at the museum in Valencia and was originally in that city´s convent of Santo Domingo. It employs perspective, anatomy and even staging, with backcloths, a dividing pilaster, curtains and discarded clothing, even a carpet and a small table with an apron and other clothing from the Lady´s boudoir. In that sense, this is cerebral painting, with distant traces of Masaccio and della Francesca, and, in Yáñez´s most mature works, somewhat before Leonardo in their distance from the latter´s sfumatura and almost musical sense.

The subject—the resurrected Christ presents his mother, the Virgin Mary, to the Fathers of Limbo that he, himself, has freed—was rarely addressed in Christian art at that time, as is clear in iconographic studies by Mále and Reau. In fact, it combines two different moments: Christ´s descent to Limbo to rescue the Fathers and Patriarchs liberated by his death—an event narrated in the Apocrypha of Nicodemus and in Santiago de la Vorágine´s Golden Legendand the resurrected Christ appearing to his mother before he was seen by anyone else. This second moment is not mentioned in the Gospel or the Apocrypha, but it was defended by both Vorágine and the Byzantine Church, and also appears in Medieval theater´s Mysteries. Its defense was particularly intense in Valencia, and is mentioned expressly by Saint Vicente Ferrer in his Sermones de Cuaresmaspecifically the Dominica de Pascuain 1413. It is also described in detail by Sister Isabel de Villena in her Vita Christi, which was first published in 1479 and had an unquestionable influence on Valencian painting at that time. Sister Isabel de Villena´s text must have been known by Yáñez and his circle, as this painting includes very specific details narrated therein with the soft feminist touch that imbues the entire history: the crown of thorns on a tablecloth before Her; the Virgin received them prostrate on the ground; turned towards her Son, the Virgin looked at him with delight; Adam prostrated himself before our Lady, and so on. The group is completed by Eve, who also kneels, symbolizing the human race alongside Adam; Dimas, the penitent thief, who embraces his cross; and various Fathers of the Old Testament, including David, Habakkuk, Micah, Elijah and others.The panel must originally have been somewhat higher, as its restoration at the Museo del Prado´s laboratory has revealed that the upper area, around Dimas´s cross, originally had two angels similar to those on paintings at Valencia Cathedral, but only part of them remains.

Technical data

Inventory number
Yáñez de la Almedina, Fernando and workshop
Christ presents the Redeemed from Limbo to the Virgin
1510 - 1518
Height: 129.8 cm; Width: 172.5 cm
Acquired from Edmund Peel & Asociados, Madrid, with funds of the Villaescusa legacy, 1992.

Bibliography +

Angulo, Diego, Tres pinturas renacentistas valencianas, Archivo español de arte y arqueología, 27, 1954, pp. 70/ lám.5.

Post, Chandler Rathfon, A history of Spanish painting, Harvard University Press, Cambridge. Nueva York, 1970, pp. 270.

Garin Ortiz de Taranco, Felipe Maria, Yañez de la Almedina Pintor Español, Instituto Alfonso el Magnanimo, Ciudad Real, 1978, pp. 134-135.

Condorelli, A., 'Interpreti spagnoli de rinascimento italiano' en Studi di Storia dell'Arte sul medioevo e il rinascimento nel centenario della nascita di Mario Salmi, Polistampa, Florencia, 1992.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Un mecenas póstumo: el legado Villaescusa : adquisiciones 19, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1993, pp. 32-35.

Ibañez Martinez, Pedro Miguel, El periodo valenciano maduro de Fernando Yáñez (h. 1516 - h. 1521), Archivo español de arte y arqueología, 1994, pp. 229 / lám. 3.

Padrón, A, El mundo de los Osona. Atribuciones poco convincentes, Antiquaria: revista de antigüedades, arte y coleccionismo, 13, 1995, pp. 67-68.

Company, Ximo, Obras en controversia. Pintura Valenciana en torno a 1500, Galería Antiquaria: Arte Contemporáneo, Antigüedades, Mercado, Coleccionismo, 1995, pp. 58.

Últimas adquisiciones: 1982-1995, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1995.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, III, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996.

Ibañez Martinez, Pedro Miguel, Fernando Yáñez de Almedina: (La incógnita Yáñez), Ediciones de la Universidad Castilla-La ManchaDipu, Cuenca, 1999, pp. 393.

Ibáñez Martínez, Pedro Miguel, La huella de Leonardo en España. Los Hernandos y Leonardo, Canal de Isabel II, Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid, 2011, pp. 334-349, nº 25.

Samper Embiz, Vicente, La única Primera Aparición del Prado. Reivindicando una obra de Yáñez, Ars Longa, 22, 2013, pp. 99-109 fg.1, fg.9.

Padrón Mérida, Aída, Una tabla de Martín Gómez "el Viejo" en el Museo del Prado, Philostrato. Revista de Historia y Arte, 1, Madrid, 2017, pp. 73-83.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2274.

Exhibitions +

La huella de Leonardo da Vinci en España.
02.12.2011 - 02.05.2012

Update date: 27-01-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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