Death of the Virgin

Partnership of the Lisbon Masters16th century

Grão Vasco National Museum

Grão Vasco National Museum
Viseu, Portugal

Just as Grão Vasco and Gaspar Vaz did, their contemporaries from other workshops also frequently worked together on the same projects. The most emblematic example of the recurrent nature of such a system of collective painting at that time is provided by the altarpieces that were painted for the church of the former convent of Ferreirim, in the region of Lamego. The drawings were made by Cristóvão de Figueiredo, and, at his bidding, Gregório Lopes and Garcia Fernandes also joined him in the execution of his various projects. Since it is difficult to disentangle the work of individual artists with any objectivity in the eight panels that formed the altarpieces of the two side altars (since the high altarpiece has already been lost), and considering the similarity between what is materialised in these panels and a series of anonymous paintings that are now scattered around various collections, in order to solve the problems of identifying the authorship of these paintings, art historians have traditionally established the category and the name of the "Masters of Ferreirim" to refer to the artists concerned.
The Death of the Virgin has its various authorships registered under the name of that famous partnership. There are a series of common features to be noted between the Death of the Virgin and the painting with the same theme that also formed part of that artistic commission. These features range from the structure of the composition (which in this case has a more strongly established diagonal) to the precise identity and form of the objects that are represented on the stool next to the Virgin’s bed, or to the physiognomic type and the garments worn by one or another of the apostles. The lesser agility shown in the depiction of the figures in the space (here they form a compact mass that can only be resolved by its being displayed as staggered from the bottom up, may be justified by the aim of seeking to give greater visibility to the figure of Christ, who appears to his mother at the moment of her passing away. An unusual iconographic detail that does not coincide with the written sources – in the scene, it is Christ who places the candle in the Virgin’s hand and not the apostle St. John, as happens in all of the panels painted on the theme of the Death of the Virgin. This is a rare iconography in Portuguese painting and it is absent from the painting from Ferreirim.


  • Title: Death of the Virgin
  • Creator: Partnership of the Lisbon Masters
  • Date Created: 16th century
  • Physical Location: Grâo Vasco Nacional Museum, Viseu, Portugal
  • Physical Dimensions: 117 cm x 105.5 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on wood

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