Piety of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

Piety of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon
Piety of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

This panel is one of the masterpieces in the collection of French Gothic paintinga held by the Louvre Museum in Paris. Although, as its name indicates, the work originates from the Charterhouse of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon where it was from its creation around 1455 until 1793, when it was knows that the revolutionaries intended to burn it, considering it to be a useless religious object.

Pietà of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Pieta

However, a priest managed to save the work and take it to a parish, where years later it would be found by Degas himself, who could not help admiring the quality of the painting.

A painting whose author we know may have been the painterEnguerrand Quarton, who was born around 1415 and is known to have been alive in 1466, although it is unknown when and where he died. An author who was one of the best representatives of the School of Avignon.

In reality, it is not certain that this painter is the true author of the panel, however it is known that in 1453 he was commissioned by the Charterhouse of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon to paint a picture of theCoronation of the Virgin, which has been studied by researchers, and they have seen many formal similarities between both works.

The scene is typically medieval, representing the moment when ChristHe is lowered from the cross and is piously seen by several characters from the New Testament who are going to deliver the dead body to his mother, the Virgin. A very dramatic theme treated by many artists, in various disciplines and from any background, such as the painting The Descent by the Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden, or the famous sculpture of La Pietá from Italian Michelangelo.

Here we also see an image of deep drama, although with other formal characteristics such as the powerful golden background that shows us the heritage of Byzantine painting in these lands of the South of France. And there are even researchers who suspect that a building inspired by the Basilica of Saint Sophia in Constantinople can be distinguished in the background.

The scene not only served as a recreation of a biblical episode, it also had something instructive, and for that reason we see the Virgin in that attitude that symbolizes the pain and acceptance of the sacrifice that she has had to live. This leading role of the Virgin Mary is even more accentuated as the complete table has not survived to this day, so everything is even more concentrated on this character.

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