Altarpiece of the Centenar de la Ploma

Altarpiece of the Centenar de la Ploma
Altarpiece of the Centenar de la Ploma

This altarpiece belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London but was originally painted in the early 15th century for the church of Saint George in Valencia, a temple already disappeared. It is of considerable dimensions, since the work measures 660 x 550 cms., and was made by the artists Marçal de Sax (of German origin) and Miquel Alcanys , who surely had the participation of other local painters to create one of the most representative works of Valencian international Gothic painting.


Altarpiece of Centenar de la Ploma

Since it was painted for a temple dedicated to Saint George, the central section of the altarpiece shows us the fight between this saint and the dragon. But in total there are five streets. So the rest recreate other themes such as the Battle of Puig that took place in 1237 and through which the conquest of Valencia was achieved to Muslims. A good number of crossbowmen participated in this battle, in fact it was the Centenar de la Ploma Company of Crossbowmen, the citizen militia that commissioned the altarpiece several centuries after those events.

In fact, in addition to its artistic value, as a good example of a certain influence of flamenco art in the International Gothic made in Spain, for many it is also a huge historical document that tells how King JaimeI reconquered the Valencian capital. It has even been given the award of being the first painting with a historical theme made in Spain.

Although with certain licenses. For example, Saint George is dressed here in the uniform of the company of crossbowmen. Something impossible, in fact not even the company as such existed in the thirteenth century when the conquest of Valencia. But logically, as commissioners of the work, their symbols appear in different places of the set. Something of the most habitual in this type of works. Without going any further, the most famous and beautiful example is Van der Weyden's Descent, which also happened to be commissioned by a company of crossbowmen, although in this case from Leuven.

But obviously and above all it is an object of religious art, hence the rest of the images that make it up. In the highest part is the Coronation of the Virgin and Christ in Majesty. As well as in the numerous painted tables the Four Evangelists, the 24 prophets or the 12 Apostles are discovered in the dust cover. While the predella, the lowest part, is composed of a dozen scenes that narrate the Passion of Christ.

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