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Altarpiece dedicated to Saint Francis

Lluís Borrassà1414/1415

Museu Episcopal de Vic

Museu Episcopal de Vic
Vic, Spain

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Lluís Borrassà, the second son of the painter Guillem Borrassà, was part of a family of painters from Girona which worked in this country from the mid-14th century until the mid-15th century. There is documentary evidence that in 1383 Lluís Borrassà's painting workshop was open in the city of Barcelona, soon to become one of the largest workshops in the city, where numerous artists, helpers and collaborators worked. His arrival in Barcelona coincided with the moment when the Italianate Gothic style, prevalent in this country throughout the second half of the 14th century, whose chief disseminator had been the Serra brothers' workshop, was exhausted and going into decline. The new International Gothic art that in those years was beginning to be produced in Flanders, Paris or Milan was characterised by leaving behind the balance and the sober harmony of the shapes and the colours, made fashionable by the artists from Siena of the 'trecento', in order to introduce a new naturalistic aesthetic based on the dynamism and the movement of the figures and the use of very bright and contrasting coloured pigments. The Episcopal Museum conserves possibly the most representative collection of work by Lluís Borrassà, through which we can follow the introduction and development of this new artistic current in his work. The large altarpiece from Santa Clara is the most important work conserved by the artist and has been unanimously considered one of the masterpieces of European painting in the early International Gothic style. It was acquired for the future Museum by Bishop Morgades in about 1889 on the occasion of the demolition of the convent church of Santa Clara Vella in Vic when the city's new boulevard was laid out. The document of the final receipt for the altarpiece survives, dated July 27th 1415, in which it states that Borrassà was paid 200 gold florins without counting the woodwork. In the centre of the altarpiece, beneath the top compartment with the Calvary scene, there is the scene of Saint Francis, enthroned with the open wound, giving the Rule to Saint Clare and the friars, establishing the three Franciscan orders. Below there is the panel of the triple dedication of the altarpiece with the figures of Saint Michael the Archangel, the Virgin of Hope and Saint Claire, which according to Ruiz Quesada has to be related to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. The altarpiece's general iconographical content highlights the importance of the Franciscans and the Dominicans in the preaching of the Gospels and the hope of human salvation.

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  • Title: Altarpiece dedicated to Saint Francis
  • Creator: Lluís Borrassà
  • Date Created: 1414/1415
  • Location Created: Barcelona, Spain
  • Physical Dimensions: w422 x h610 cm (Complete)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Museu Episcopal de Vic, photographer: Joan M. Díaz
  • External Link: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Medium: Tempera on wood
  • Style Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Style: Gothic
  • Provenance Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Provenance: From the old convent of Santa Clara in Vic (Osona)
  • Place Part Of: Spain
  • Painter: Lluís Borrassà
  • Medium Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Description Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Description Extent: Complete

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