Retable of the life of the virgin

Unknown1515 - 1520

Museo Nacional de Escultura

Museo Nacional de Escultura
Valladolid, Spain

The retablo is an important example of the Flemish sculpture work exports to Castile where they were highly valued. Its structure, in shape of a box with curved finishing, allows us to connect it to pieces produced in Antwerp around 1515. Carved on walnut, it is composed of three different parts separated by small Gothic pillars crowned in pinnacles, where there are five scenes chronologically arranged from left to right and top to bottom: the birth of the Virgin, the Annunciation, the birth of Jesus, the Adoration of the Magi and, in the center, the Descent from the Cross, that presents in its lower part, the scene of the Lamentation of Christ and in its upper part, an incomplete Calvary which lacks the figure of the Impenitent Thief and the empty cross, outlines by a medieval Jerusalem. All the reliefs are supported by corbels decorated with vegetal elements and covered by canopies of openwork tracery. The retablo originally had two doors that made it a triptych. A detailed analysis of the scenes allow to perceive different artist's hands that left proof of the creative process, where many officers worked under one master. Both upper sides stand out for their delicate composition, quality and details; the rest presents a greater volume and expression power, and a marked realism in the characters. The group communicates a lot of information about the period of time when it was made, tinging religious facts with daily tasks.


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