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The Saint Christopher Altarpiece
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Anónimo

The Saint Christopher Altarpiece

Late XIII century. Tempera on panel, 275.3 x 189.1 cm.

This small altarpiece, divided into three horizontal and three vertical rows, is dedicated to Saint Christopher, who protects against sudden death. His image occupies the central row, which is topped by the Crucifixion. Saint Christopher was a third-century martyr known as "Christ´s Carrier", because of his legend. Born as Offerus or Reprebus, he wished to use his enormous strength and uncommon size to serve the most powerful king in the world. But he found fault with all of them. In his search, he met a hermit who spoke to him of offering his gift to Christ. The hermet converted and baptized him. From then on, Christopher offered to carry people form one bank to the other of a powerfully flowing river as an act of devotion. One day he had to carry a Child whose weight increased as he drew near the shore. When Christopher asked the child about this, the boy identified himself as Christ and answered that, as Lord of the Universe, he had to bear all its weight. As proof, he ordered the saint to push the staff he usually leaned on into the riverbed. Miraculously, a palm tree grew out of it. Here, Saint Christopher is shown carrying a millstone with his left arm as proof of his extraordinary strength. The Christ Child sits on his shoulders holding the Earthly Globe, which is divided into earth, sky and water. The lateral rows have scenes from the lives and martyrdom of other saints: Peter, Blas and Millán, who are identified by their names on the molding separating them, as well as an incense-bearing angel at the top. This artist of fourteenth-century Castilian Franco-Gothic or Lineal Gothic style maintains the hierarchical perspective among figures. The quality of his drawing is especially outstanding. The origins of this altarpiece are unknown, but it may come from a Benedictine monastery in La Rioja, as it includes a scene from the life of Saint Millán. The lion and castle repeated around the work´s edges symbolize the kingdoms of Castile and León and suggests that the work may have been intended for a Royal foundation.

Technical data

Inventory number
P03150
Author
Anónimo
Title
The Saint Christopher Altarpiece
Date
Late XIII century
Technique
Tempera
Support
Panel
Dimension
High/Height: 275.3 cm.; Width: 189.1 cm.
Provenance
Donation by José Luis Várez Fisa, 1970.

Bibliography +

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 911.

Pita Andrade, J.M, ''Arte. La Edad Media'' en Castilla la Vieja-León, Noguer: Fundación Juan March, Barcelona, 1975, pp. 298-300/ lám.265.

Salas, Xavier de, Adquisiciones del Museo del Prado, Goya, 1976, pp. 347.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado: adquisiciones de 1969 a 1977, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1978, pp. 5.

Buendía, José Rogelio1928-, El Prado Basico, Silex, Madrid, 1979, pp. 14-15.

Ars hispaniae: historia universal del arte hispánico, V, Plus Ultra, Madrid, 1980, pp. 254/ lám.313.

Luca de Tena, Consuelo, Guia del Prado, Silex, Madrid, 1980, pp. 118.

Jacobo de VorágineBeato, La leyenda dorada, Alianza, Madrid, 1982, pp. 164-167.

Luna, Juan J., Guia Actualizada del Prado, Alfiz, Madrid, 1984, pp. 16.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 797.

Torne Poyatos, María Angeles, Pintura gótica española del Museo del Prado : catálogo críti..., [s.n.], Madrid, 1987, pp. 421-427/ láms.71-72.

García Páramo, Ana María, Aportaciones al estudio de la iconografía de los santos en el reino de Castilla, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, 1988, pp. 234,311,315,872,887,888.

Réau, Louis1881-1961, Iconographie de L'Art Chretien. T. I. Introduction Generale, Kraus Reprint, Millwood, 1988, pp. 308.

Azcárate Ristori, J.M., Arte gótico en España, Catedra, Madrid, 1990, pp. 287-288.

Sureda i Pons, Joan, La pintura protogótica, Cuadernos de Arte Español. Historia 16, 1992, pp. 22-23.

Grau Lobo, Luis A., San Cristobal,Homo Viator en los Caminos Bajomedievales:Avan..., Centro de Estudios Benaventanos, Benavente, 1994, pp. 179-180,183.

Mateo Gómez, Isabel, ''Arte Gótico'' en Historia del arte de Castilla y León, Ámbito, Valladolid, 1995, pp. 349-351.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Ministerio de Educación y Cultura, Madrid, 1996, pp. 461.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds MercatorFundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 18.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, III, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996, pp. 494.

Castillo-Ojugas, Antonio., Una visita médica al Museo del Prado /, You & Us, Madrid, 1998, pp. 80.

Portús, Javier, La Coleccion de Pintura Española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 24.

Borrás Gualís, Gonzalo, 'La representación de la vida cotidiana en las tablas góticas del Museo del Prado' en Historias mortales: La vida cotidiana en el arte, GALAXIA GUTENBERG, Barcelona, 2004, pp. 120.

Esteban Lorente, J.F; Moya Valgañón, J.G; Silva y Verástegui, S., ''Baja Edad Media: los siglos del gótico'' en Alta Edad Media, Románico y Gótico. Historia del Arte en La Rioja, II, Fundación Caja Rioja, Logroño, 2006, pp. 353-354.

Museo Nacional del Prado, La Guía del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2008, pp. 28,29.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura española del Románico al Renacimiento, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2010, pp. 15.

Baños Gutiérrez, Fernando, El Retablo de San Cristóbal, Boletín del Museo del Prado., 2010, pp. 6-21.

Silva Maroto, María Pilar, Donación Várez Fisa, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 14-15 n.5.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (desde 1856). Núm. 1919.
Anonimo. Fines del s. XIII / 1919. Asunto: retablo de S. Cristobal / T. Altura centro: 2,66: extremos 1,98, ancho 1,84 / Nº del catalogo, 3150 / Donacion del sr. Varez Fisa dic. 1970

There are no temporary exhibitions related to this work

Location +

Room 052A (On Display)

Update date: 05-04-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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