The Virgin of the Catholic Monarchs

The Virgin of the Catholic Monarchs
The Virgin of the Catholic Monarchs

La Virgen de los Reyes Católicos is the name given to this table that represents a sacra conversazione with this modality, we refer to a subgenre within of religious painting very common in the Italian Renaissance. Moving away from the hieratic poses of the Middle Ages, the sacred conversations of the Renaissance represent the Virgin Mary enthroned together with her Son and accompanied by different saints or the patrons of the canvas -in the case that concerns us here, both appear- in a more familiar relationship and less formal.

Virgin RRCC

The work was made in tempera on board and with an almost quadrangular format –it measures about one hundred and twenty centimeters in height and just over one hundred and twelve in width-. Originally it was in the oratory of the Cuarto Real of the Santo Tomás de Ávila monastery of the Dominican order, from here the panel passed to the Trinidad Monastery and later, at the time of Mendizábal's disentailment, to the collections of the Museo del Prado, where it is currently on display.

Despite the numerous studies that have been carried out on the tabla it has not been possible to conclude its authorship and the work has been assigned to an unknown master of Spanish-Flemish origin. Some art critics and historians consider the possibility that the author belonged to the circle of Fernando Gallego's disciples, others even venture to confirm the name of the author and in this sensesome of the names that arise are Pedro de Madrazo or Pedro Berruguete himself. Currently, the technicians of the Prado Museum are even considering the possibility that different artists intervened on the canvas or a workshop with traces of the master and apprentices.

In the center of the composition and following the typical structure of Flemish painting we find the Virgin Mary seated on an imposing throne of highly carved stone carrying her Son in her arms. The Virgin appears dressed in a pompous reddish dress with wide folds that gives her a monumental appearance. The rest of the figures that complete the scene appear divided into two groups that are located on the left and right flanking the Virgin.

The two monks who appear next to Mary are Santo Domingo de Guzmán and Santo Tomás de Aquinas; both are doctors of the church, which explains why they carry books and while the first carries a lily as a sign of his Marian devotion, the second has been represented with a model of the monastery of Santo Tomás de Ávila because it is under his patronage. Together with them we find the benefactors of the table, the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel I of Castile and Fernando de Aragón along with two of her children, the infantes Juan and Isabel. Completing the composition are some of the figures that held the most power at the time, the general inquisitors, one of whom has been identified with Torquemada, inquisitor of Castile, and the other is believed to be the inquisitor of Aragon.

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