The sixteenth-century panel in the Azores classified as a public interest good

The Government of the Azores today classified the sixteenth-century panel “Lamentation on the Dead Christ” of the Igreja Matriz de São Miguel Arcanjo, considered as “one of the masterpieces of ancient painting” in the region.

In a note sent to the editors today, the Azorean executive explains that this panel, in Vila Franca do Campo, is “one of the masterpieces of ancient painting in the Azores and one of the excellent pieces of Mannerism in Portugal, and therefore represents a cultural value of regional and national importance, both in terms of authorship, authenticity and rarity “.

The panel is owned by the Mother Church of São Miguel Arcanjo, in the parish of São Miguel, in Vila Franca do Campo, and its authorship is attributed to the Portuguese painter Diogo de Contreiras, who probably performed it between 1550 and 1560.

Composed of eight slabs of oak wood from the Baltic (Quercus alba) and its original frame, the panel extends between 1.97 meters high and 2.08 meters wide and follows the technique of oil painting, whose painted scene represents, in the foreground, the dead body of Jesus, supported on the shoulders by his mother and Mary Magdalene, who holds her legs, next to a vase with perfumes.

In 2008, “the panel was heavily damaged and without visibility in the side chapel on the side of the epistle,” but between November 2009 and December 2013 was “the subject of extensive historical, technical and scientific study and deep intervention of conservation and restoration, “according to the regional directorate of Culture.

The same note goes that in 2014 the panel was placed in the temple, in a niche of basaltic stone with an ogival arch, in the nave on the side of the epistle.

The classification, published today in the Official Gazette, took into account “the classification criteria are foreseen in the legislation, the genius of its creator, the aesthetic, technical or material value intrinsic to the property and its importance for the historical and scientific research, “the statement said.

The ‘Lamentation on the Dead Christ’ panel is the only remaining piece of the main altarpiece executed in Lisbon following the reconstruction of the Parish Church of Vila Franca do Campo after the tragic earthquake of October 22, 1522.

The author, Diogo de Contreiras, pioneered the aesthetic change that characterizes this period of Portuguese painting, introducing a greater theatrical dynamization of the compositions and intensifying the spiritualization of religious scenes,” reads the note, adding that the artist worked “in Lisbon for the best clientele of the kingdom, being considered one of the most creative painters of the sixteenth century and one of the initiators of Mannerism in Portugal.”

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