Despite the controversy about the authorship of this work, it is highly credible that a group led by the Flemish painter Francisco Henriques, in which  the young Vasco Fernandes, Grão Vasco, also belonged, created this set of paintings for the main chapel of the cathedral, between 1501 and 1506.

The various narrative scenes alluding to the Life of the Virgin, the Childhood of Jesus and the Passion of Christ, not only maintain material marks of their original disposition in the structure of the altarpiece, because of the relation of painting to the frame, as were rigorously programmed, in a formal point of view, to the different height at which the spectator observed them.

In the panel Adoration of the Magi, the figure of the black mage Baltazar is replaced by an Indian from Brazil. The chronological closeness of this representation, considered as the first in Western art, with the discovery of the lands of Vera Cruz, gives this painting an extraordinary historical value. And, among many other possible examples, in the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, the Portuguese shield appears on the gantry that shows an architectural background.


  • Title: Altarpiece of the chancel of Viseu Cathedral
  • Creator: Vasco Fernandes, Francisco Henriques
  • Date Created: 1501-1506
  • Physical Location: Grâo Vasco Nacional Museum, Viseu, Portugal
  • Location Created: Altarpiece of the main chapel of the Cathedral of Viseu
  • Physical Dimensions: 264 cm x ?
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on oak wood

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