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Master of Becerril
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Master of Becerril

Palencia?, 1520

See author's file


Ca. 1525. Oil on panel.
Not on display

This painter is one of the most outstanding and singular representatives of the early Renaissance in Palencia. While there are no extant documents to prove it, this work must somehow be connected with Juan de Flandes (doc. 1496-1519) during the time that he was working in Palencia (1509-1519). This is visible in the strong dependence of its figures on Flandes´s models, as well as the manner of depicting the landscapes. He was also influenced by Berruguete (ca.1445/1450-1503), but only in specific compositional schemes, such as his manner of depicting the prophets on the benches before a parapet, as in the present work. Besides the influence of Juan de Flandes, and the much smaller influence of Berruguete; the Master of Becerril was also open to the influence of Italian art, which he must have received indirectly through engravings. This is clear in his taste for Renaissance architecture. In his paintings, these buildings frequently include sculptures or reliefs charged with symbolic significance. In light of his strong dependence on Juan de Flandes, Post concluded in 1947 that he may have been that Flemish painter´s son. In 1937, however, Angulo suggested, with no basis whatsoever, that he might have been Pedro Berruguete´s son-in-law, Juan González Becerril,who is documented in Toledo in 1498 and may possibly have continued working there. In 1987, Joaquín Yarza proposed a more probable if unacceptable hypothesis: that he could be associated with García Ruiz, who was documented in Palencia in 1533 and "came from Paredes de Nava." The impossibility of identifying this painter from Palencia, he was finally assigned the title of Master of Becerril, a conventional option based on one of his most outstanding and best-known works, the Main Altarpiece of the Church of San Pelayo in Becerril de Campos (Palencia), which is no longer at that church. The altarpiece´s body and two panels from its predella, with the figures of Saints Catherine and Agatha, were acquired by Malaga Cathedral for the Chapel of the Sagrado Corazón, where they remain today, alongside that temple´s Epistle. These four panels of prophets from an altarpiece predella whose original destination is unknown were published by Diego Angulo Íñiguez when the were part of the Adanero Collection (1937) and are capital pieces from this author´s oeuvre, precisely because he was most successful when depicting single figures, as occurs here. That is so much the case that, when Angulo referred to him in 1937 and in other later studies, he went so far as to observe that "if he had known how to maintain the level he reached when painting isolated figures, his standing in our Renaissance painting would be far higher." The four prophets at the Museo del Prado—Solomon, Isaiah, Ezequiel and David—reflect both the artist´s interest in Renaissance architecture—this is patent in the sumptuous thrones where they sit—and in his fondness for landscapes. The outermost figures—Solomon and David—are foreshortened while the central two are presented frontally. Here, as in many other works, the artist places his figures before a landscape—a faraway, as they were known in documents of that period—rather than in front of gold-brocade backgrounds of the sort used almost systematically by Pedro Berruguete. Of course, this also reflects tastes from their respective periods—Berruguete until 1503, and the Master of Becerril between 1520 and 1535. The human types chosen by the Master of Becerril in his representation of the prophets—especially David—and his manner of depicting the landscape in these four panels reveals how profoundly he was indebted to Juan de Flandes. This Flemish painter is recalled in the ruined bulidings, the shapes of boulders reminiscent of Mantegna, the precious stones scattered around the ground as allusions to paradise, and motives such as the sealing wax that holds the ribbon with the prophets´ names, which matches Juan de Flandes´ use of that wax to fix the "INRI" ribbon in his Crucifixion for the main altarpiece at Palencia Cathedral, which has been at the Museo del Prado since 2005 (Text drawn from Silva, P. en: Memoria de Actividades, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2009, pp. 22-23).

Technical data

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Inventory number
Master of Becerril
Ca. 1525
Height: 90.8 cm; Width: 87.7 cm
Private collection, Madrid; acquired in Caylus Anticuario, 2008

Bibliography +

Avila, Ana, Oro y tejidos en los fondos pictóricos del Renacimiento español, Anuario del Departamento de Historia y Teoría del Arte, 1989, pp. 103-116 [114].

Museo Nacional del Prado, Memoria de actividades 2009, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 22-23.

Martínez Plaza, Pedro J. y Pérez-Seoane Mazzuchelli, Carmen, La colección Adanero – Castro Serna en Madrid. De la Restauración a la Guerra Civil, LOCVS AMŒNVS, 19, 2021, pp. 177-219.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2789.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower central area

Update date: 20-09-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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