Piedad, Fernando Gallego

Piedad, Fernando Gallego
Piedad, Fernando Gallego

In Europe at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Age, the influences between one and the other schools of painting became more and more palpable. In this sense, we must point out how the Flemish tradition was increasingly present in Spanish works and especially in those of Fernando Gallego, since if there was a Spanish painter who really knew how to represent the northern aesthetic, it was the painter from Salamanca, his works are close to the forms of Roger Van der Weyden or even Dirk Bouts.

The work we are analyzing here is a table that measures about one hundred and eighteen centimeters in height and just over one hundred and two in width. It is currently exhibited as part of the collection of the Prado Museum in Madrid and according to experts it could date from around the year 1470,thus becoming the first known work of the painter. In reality, there is not much data about this fabulous piece, we do not know who the donors are or the context in which it was made, although the studies carried out in this regard make us consider the possibility that it was a commemorative piece destined to preside over a burial.


The theme represented in this table is known as La Piedad or La Quinta Angustia,a theme of German origin and highly inspired by the works of Van der Weyden who always had the scene with an urban background that has alsorepresented the Spanish painter. The Calvary cross is slightly offset from the center of the panel and at its foot we find the figure of the Virgin holding her lifeless Son in her arms. Mary appears dressed in a red tunic - a symbol of the passion suffered by her Son - and a bluish cape that contrasts with the lifeless whitish body of Christ. The folds of María's clothing create a great volume very much in the flamenco taste – although, yes, not very naturalistic – and give the group a pyramidal composition that completely dominates the stage.

To the right of this group are represented the donors of whom, as we have already said, we do not know their identity but in whom the rich clothing of the time can be appreciated as well as the beginning of Psalm 50 with the Latin phrase Miserere mei Domine, have mercy on me Lord.

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