The Gothic painter of the fifteenth century Bernat Martorell possessed an undoubted artistic mastery, so much so that even when historians were unaware of his true name, his works were already recognizable and were attributed to an artist who identified himself as “Maestro de San Jorge”, for being the author of the central panel of an altarpiece dedicated to said saint that owned the Pedralbes monastery in Barcelona.
The Wedding at Cana by Bernat Martorell
It was later that more information about the artist was discovered, including his name and that he was born in the Catalan town ofSant Celoni, and that he was active from 1425 to 1452 in Barcelona. In addition, it was also known that he had worked and inherited the pictorial mastery of the artistBorrasà. In short, Martorell created a workshop with many commissions for religious art, and at his death it was run by other great artists of the Gothic in Catalonia such as Pere García de Benabarreand then Jaume Huguet.
Bernat Martorell's painting influenced by the chivalric airs of the art of the Duchy of Burgundy, where artists of the stature of the Limburg brothers worked and his Book of the Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry or the funerary sculptures of Klaus Sluter.
On the other hand, the scenes on the tablesby Martorell they usually have a very urban setting and in that scenario he creates he dwells abundantly on each and every one of the details he paints. And it is that he is an excellent cartoonist, but also a great colorist. Everything in his works has a clear narrative spirit. These characteristics of his art can be seen in this table, where under the religious theme, what he actually offers us is a fantastic portrait of what the wedding banquets of his time could have been like.
Furthermore, curiously despite being away from the Italian and Flemish centers where in those years interesting and innovative studies of perspective were being forged, from Catalan lands he included in his tables very special approaches regarding these matters of perspective.
It is curious to see how scholars and art historians have gradually unraveled the life and work of this creator. It is known that in 1437 he painted the altarpiece of Púbolcommissioned by the noblemanBernat de Corberawhich is now preserved in theMuseum Diocesan of Girona. And that years later, in 1449, he was making the altar of the Savior for the Cathedral of Barcelona, where two of his panels stood out, one with the scene of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, and this one from The Wedding at Cana, which is currently owned by the Art Institute of Chicago, in the United States.