Detail of the work

With this deposit of Virgin and Child enthroned from the City Council of Madrid, the Museo del Prado will now be able to exhibit one of the artist’s masterpieces alongside other important works by Berruguete. This exquisite panel, in which the painter displayed all his skills, can be identified as a devotional work due to its small size and nature while the status of its supposed patron, Beatriz Galindo, who was closely associated with Isabel the Catholic, explains its meticulous technique and elaborate composition.

The Prado currently possesses nineteen paintings by Pedro Berruguete. The best and most historically important of them came to the Museum from the Dominican monastery of Santo Tomás in Ávila, the headquarters of the Inquisition, which was built under the supervision of the Inquisitor Torquemada and funded by Isabel the Catholic.

Nine panels from the altarpieces of Saint Peter Martyr and Saint Dominic, which Berruguete painted for the monastery church of the Dominicans in Ávila entered the Museum with the collections of the Museo de la Trinidad, an institution that housed paintings which had left their original locations due to the Disentailment of religious houses in Spain in the 19th century. This was also the origin of the paintings on cloth of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and of two more of the Adoration of the Magi, which reveal the influence of the Italian Quattrocento on Berruguete’s work. The most celebrated of the paintings originally in Ávila, the Auto da Fe, which offers a faithful reflection of life in Castile during the reign of Isabel the Catholic, was acquired by Royal Decree on 10 April 1867 for entry into the Museo de la Trinidad, from where it passed to the Prado.

Of lesser quality are two further works by the artist that subsequently entered the Prado. Saint Dominic and the Albigenses, which repeats the composition of the altarpiece from Santo Tomás in Ávila, entered the Museum with the Vaamonde Bequest in 1898, while in 1966 the Museum received The Resurrection of Christ, which was formerly in the Suma collection and was acquired by the Junta de Exportación.

Thanks to the Várez Fisa Bequest, this year (2013) the Prado has year increased its holdings of works by the artist with two panels that depict the Four Fathers of the Western Church: Saints Gregory and Jerome in one panel and Saints Ambrose and Augustine in the other. Originally part of the predella of an altarpiece (current whereabouts unknown), they reveal the artist’s mastery in the depiction of such figures, which have a presence almost comparable to portraits, as is also evident in the predella from the Altarpiece of Saint Eulalia in Paredes de Nava, one of Berruguete’s masterpieces.

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