High altarpiece of the Collegiate Church of Bolea

High altarpiece of the Collegiate Church of Bolea
High altarpiece of the Collegiate Church of Bolea

The current Collegiate Church of Santa María de Bolea was built in the mid-16th century following the design of the Basque master builder Pedro de Irazábal, who proposed here a temple called a hall plan, that is, with all its naves at the same height as was customary in various constructions of the first renaissance and the Gothic period, as is the case of Santa María del Mar in Barcelona.


High altarpiece of the Collegiate Church of Bolea

However, before this new collegiate church was built, there was already a medieval temple in Bolea and inside it its great jewel, the High Altarpiece that has been dated between the years 1490 and 1503. A work that, due to its dimensions and quality, was perfectly integrated into the new temple.

This altarpiece is a compendium of the pictorial and sculptural arts of the time. It is a large Gothic structure composed of a bench in its lower part that serves as a base for the body, which is divided into five streets and three floors. While everything is framed by a dust cover. A set where the base is wood, both cypress, Flanders pine, walnut or cherry. All of them make up the key material both for carving the structure and numerous figures as well as for the bases of the tempera-painted tables.

Regarding the carvings, there are up to 57 polychrome figures, among which the central figure of the Virgin ofthe assumption. A whole decorative ensemble that came from the workshop of Gil de Brabant, a sculptor originally from the area of ​​Brussels and Brabant, but who settled in the area of ​​Huesca to work in this area of ​​Spain at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries.

Such a figurative repertoire is of great quality, but the pictorial part of the altarpiece is even more so. There are 20 panels painted with the tempera technique, whose author is the so-calledMaster of Bolea, so known because his identity and name are unknown.

That does not prevent it from being one of the main works of religious painting in the Spanish Renaissance. And it is that this painter was able to merge in the same work the two great European styles of the time. On the one hand, he works with detail, naturalness and strong colors worthy of the best painters ofFlemish art. But at the same time it is appreciated that he has notions of the studies of perspective, light and shadow that define the art of theQuattrocentoin Italian painting

In short, a great master of Spanish Renaissance art, and for this reason there are authors who associate him with both Pedro Berruguete and Juan de Borgoña.

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