Altarpiece with Scenes from the Life of the Virgin

Essay by mobyfreak1985College, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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Found in the workshop of Gonzalo Perez, in the city of Puerto Mingalvo, "Altarpiece with Scenes from the Life of the Virgin," measures 156"x113 3/4." The artwork was created in 1420-30 and uses tempera and gold leaf on a wooden panel. Most of Perez's work has been found in the Chapel of Santo Domingo in the Cathedral of Valencia. The painting, known as a retablo, as it consists of multiple scenes relating to one theme, depicts the life of the Virgin Mary in a non-chronological order.

Surrounding the wooden panel is a carved border with beautiful engravings of flowers and diamond encased leaves. On the left side of the wooden panel, "The Annunciation to the Virgin," "The Adoration of the Kings," and "The Ascension of Christ" can be found. In the center of the wooden panel, "The Death of the Virgin" and "The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Angels" are separated by a beautiful gold molding.

To the right, "The Adoration of the Shepherds," "The Resurrection of Christ," and "The Pentecost" finish 2/3 of the painting. The bottom of the artwork consists of 9 small paintings that depict the entombment of Christ. In this, Perez shows the 8 saints: Anthony Abbot, Margaret, Peter, the Virgin Mary, John the Evangelist, Paul, Catherine of Alexandria, and John the Baptist, separated by the depiction of Christ being pulled from his tomb by an angel.

The style of this particular artwork is stylized as the figures in the painting have an iconic look to them with the use of halos. The artist uses golden halos to separate the holiness of Mary, the disciples, the angels, and Christ. Upon closer examination, the halos, made from gold leaf, have small carved details bestowed upon them.

However, one of the most interesting figures in the...