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The Crucifixion
Maestro de la Leyenda de Santa Catalina
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Maestro de la Leyenda de Santa Catalina

The Crucifixion

1475 - 1485. Oil on panel, 100 x 71 cm.

The wound in Christ`s side was inflicted after his death (John 19:34). The two angels, blue and dressed in blue, are apparently cherubim. Saint John the Evangelist steps forward to support the weeping Virgin, who is kneeling and embracing the Cross. Her mouth is very close to the blood running from the wounds in Christ`s feet. The three women on the right are presumably the Three Maries: Mary Magdalene and the Virgin`s half-sisters Mary Cleophas (John 19:25) and Mary Salome (Mark 15:40). The picture is attributed to the Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine. Named after the Scenes from the Life of Saint Catherine (Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts), he worked in Brussels between about 1475 and about 1500. He had a fairly comprehensive knowledge of paintings by and from the workshop of Rogier van der Weyden and had access to the archive of drawings, patterns, tracings and record copies maintained by Rogier and his descendants.

Large parts of the exhibited picture are copied from the Vienna Crucifixion with Saints and Donors attributed to Rogier, now framed as a triptych but originally, it seems, a single panel separated into three parts by gilded frames painted in trompe-l`oeil. The donors have not been identified. The Vienna painting, perhaps of about 1445, was first mentioned in 1659. In the exhibited picture, the figures of Christ, the two flying angels, Saint John and the Virgin, with the landscape between Saint John`s head and the right edge, are copied full size and in the same colours from the Vienna painting. The head and much of the body, though not the hands, of the Mary on the right are taken from the Saint Veronica on the right of the Vienna picture. The torso and hands of the Mary on our right of the Cross come from the donatrix in the Vienna Crucifixion; while the face and neck, though not the headdress, of the same Mary are copied from the woman behind the Cross in Rogier`s Seven Sacraments (Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 393, 394, 395). On the left of the Prado Crucifixion, the buildings and moat are taken from the landscape behind the Magdalen on the left of the Vienna picture. The head, headdress, veil and clothes of the central Mary in the Prado Crucifixion duplicate those of the Magdalen in the centre panel of the triptych of the Descent from the Cross in Cologne, attributed to the Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine. There the donor carries over his left arm a canon`s almuce but his coat of arms has not been identified. The Cologne triptych, perhaps painted in around 1480, was first mentioned in 1884.

Like the Cologne triptych, the painting is obviously by the artist of the Scenes from the Legend of Saint Catherine. Though most of the figures and all of the landscape have been carefully copied after Rogier`s Vienna Crucifixion, the Master`s style is clearly revealed in the woman in the lower right corner. He must have had access to tracings of Rogier`s Vienna Crucifixion and to coloured copies, for even the smallest details of the tiny figures in the landscape are accurately reproduced. It is not yet understood how the tracings were transferred to the Prado panel, how the coloured copies were stored and how they were used.

Similar questions arise in connection with the Prado Pietà and the version formerly in the Mangoni collection. The landscapes there correspond precisely in form and colour. The Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine was a careful copyist whose pictures are difficult to date. Steyaert placed the Crucifixion around 1475-85,9 which accords with the dendrochronological evidence. The Master could not himself have imagined or drawn the floating loincloth or the Virgin in her very contorted, potentially awkward and certainly uncomfortable, though elegantly balletic pose. By using a tracing and following closely his coloured copy, he has managed to reproduce the Virgin and the loincloth as well as the small details of the landscape. Other followers of Rogier, perhaps more gifted draughtsmen, did not rise to such challenges and in their versions abandoned either the floating loincloth, or the Virgin, or both. In the exhibited painting, the group of Christ and the two cherubim, copied faithfully, still works. The totally improbable loincloth is rhymed visually with the trailing draperies of the two flying angels, and the upper contours of the floating ends of the loincloth echo the upper contours of Christ`s arms. By altering the landscape on the left, however, and by intruding on the right the three large Maries, the Master has upset the balance and the rhythms of Rogier`s composition. Changing even very slightly a composition by Van der Weyden is inevitably dangerous and usually has destructive effects, which shows how carefully Rogier considered the placing of every line, every shape, every colour (Campbell, L.; Pérez Preciado, J. J.: Rogier van der Weyden, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2015, pp. 142-144).

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Technical data

Inventory number
P02663
Author
Maestro de la Leyenda de Santa Catalina
Title
The Crucifixion
Date
1475 - 1485
Technique
Oil
Support
Panel
Dimension
High/Height: 100 cm.; Width: 71 cm.
Provenance
Legacy of Pablo Bosch y Barrau, 1916

Bibliography +

Lafond, Paul, La Collection de Don Pablo Bosch à Madrid, Las Arts, 22, 1903, pp. 19-26.

Alvarez Cabanas, A., Roger Van Der Weyden en el Museo del Prado, Imp.Helenica, Madrid, 1927, pp. 94.

Friedländer, Max J., Early netherlandish painting, II, A.W.Sijthoff, 1967, pp. Lám. 108,134,190.

Friedländer, Max J., Early netherlandish painting, IV, A.W.Sijthoff, Leyden ; Bruselas, 1969, pp. nº 50.

Primitifs flamands anonymes : maîtres aux noms d'emprunt de..., Stadt Brugge, Brujas, 1969.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 366.

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

Vos, Dirk de, Rogier Van Der Weyden: the complete works, Harry N.Abrams, New York, 1999, pp. 234-237.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura flamenca de los siglos XV y XVI: guía, Museo del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 70.

Gómez Nebreda, María Luisa, Las pinturas del convento franciscano de los Ángeles de Madrid que pasaron al Museo de la Trinidad. Contribución al catálogo del ''Prado Disperso'', Boletín del Museo del Prado, XX, 2002, pp. 42.

Steyaert, Griet, De Brusselse schilderschool na Rogier van der Weyden: De meester van de Sint-Catharina-legende, Vrije universiteit Brussel, Bruselas, 2003.

Silva,P., El siglo de Durero : problemas historiográficos. En torno a las realciones entre Durero y España, 2008, pp. 181-209.

Campbell, Lorne, Rogier van der Weyden 1400-1464 : master of passions, Waanders Uitgeverij: Davidsfonds, 2009, pp. 469-470.

Steyaers, Griet, 'Le Maître de la Légende de sainte Catherine' En:, L'héritage de Rogier van der Weyden. La peinture à Bruxelles 1450-1520, Lannoo. Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique, Tielt, 2013, pp. 204-223 [205-207 Lám. III.140].

Campbell, L. Pérez, J.J., 'Maestro de la Leyenda de Santa Catalina. La Crucifixión' En:, Rogier van der Weyden y los reinos de la Península Ibérica, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 142-144 n.13.

¡Hola Prado!: Two Collections in Dialogue, Michael Imhof Verlag,, 2017, pp. 24-5 n.1.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1411.
Autor = Rogelio van der Weyden / 1411. Asunto = el calvario (tabla) / Dimensiones = alto = 1,00 ancho = 0,71

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2663.

Exhibitions +

Rogier van der Weyden (ca.1399-1464)
Madrid
24.03.2015 - 28.06.2015

Location +

Room 058A (On Display)

Expuesto
Update date: 05-09-2017 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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