Altarpiece of the Legend of Saint Michael

Altarpiece of the Legend of Saint Michael
Altarpiece of the Legend of Saint Michael
Anonim

The Museo del Prado in Madrid houses this altarpiece by an unknown author, but it is one of the best works of international Gothic style paintingmade in Spain in the mid-15th century. The work was an altarpiece that recounted various scenes from the legend of Saint Michael, and was composed for a temple in the tiny town of Arguis, at the foot of the Pyrenees mountain range. That is why the painter is known as the Master of Arguis, as we have no more information about him.

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Altarpiece of Saint Michael the Archangel by the Master of Arguis

As usual at that time, the painting is religious in nature, but above all it has a narrative and sobering spirit. It is about telling the story of that saint and impressing the faithful who contemplate it, for which he does not hesitate to include very expressionist elements, something that the Master of Arguis masters to perfection thanks to his strong color and who knows how to generate scenes very dynamic, almost agitated. Especially in terms of the characters, all of them very gesticulating and active. It's easy to follow the thread of the action and recognize the intentions of all of them.

Here we are told in six tables several key episodes in the hagiography of the Archangel Saint Michael. And although the set is incomplete, missing such important elements as the central table and the one on the highest part, and even some sculpture, without a doubtThis is a Gothic work of great interest.

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Altarpiece of Saint Michael the Archangel by the Master of Arguis

In the two side streets that have been preserved, we are told how Gargano was wounded by the rebound of an arrow thrown at a bull that was fleeing from the herd. We also see how the souls of the dead are weighed and how the rebel angels fight. All this on one side. While in the other, Saint Michael is seen defeating the antichrist who tries to ascend to heaven, we also see him appearing to Pope Saint Gregory on the castle, and again appearing on the mount.

In general, the spirit of each one of these scenes, always framed by the typical Gothic arches, is to seek to shock the viewer. And for that he resorts to very explicit details, and even humorous in certain details. It is certainly international gothic art, but the researchers add that it has unmistakable Hispanic overtones.

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Altarpiece of Saint Michael the Archangel by the Master of Arguis

And although the most outstanding are the two vertical streets with the narrative scenes, the lower part has also survived to this day, where six tables are arranged horizontally. It is the predella and so many other saints seem to be sitting there, all of them identified by an inscription. They are Saint Paul, Saint Catherine, Saint Lawrence, Saint Vincent, Saint Barbara and Saint Peter.

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