Charles Stein (1840-1899), Paris;
His sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 10-14 May 1886, lot 264 (as Hans Baldung Grien);
Victor Martin Le Roy (1842-1918), Paris, by 1909.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Special Loan Exhibition of the Middle Ages, 1945;
New York, Finch College Museum of Art, Sixty-Six Paintings in Search of Their Authors, 21 November 1969 - 20 January 1970, no. 4 (as Spanish School, 15th Century), reproduced.
P. Leprieur, in Catalogue raisonné de la collection Martin Le Roy, V , Paris 1909, pp. 57-60, no. 16 (as Spanish School), reproduced plate XIV;
S. Reinach, Répertoire de peintures du moyen âge et de la Renaissance (1280-1580), IV, Paris 1918, p. 553, no. 1 (as 'Attributed to Spanish School(?)), reproduced;
C.R. Post, A History of Spanish Painting, vol. IV, part 1, Cambridge, Mass. 1933, pp. 196/198, reproduced p. 197, fig. 54 (as 'School of Palencia ?'), vol. VII, part 2, 1938, pp. 862-864 (as 'St. Ildefonso Master');
J.A. Gaya Nuño, La Pintura española fuera de España, Madrid 1958, p. 93, no. 74 (as 'School of Palencia').
It is only relatively recently that the author of this extraordinary panel, in which St. George stands triumphantly on top of the slain dragon before a vivid green landscape, has been widely accepted to be Jorge Inglés, an artist working predominantly in the Spanish region of Castile in the third quarter of the fifteenth century. The attribution was first proposed by Charles Sterling who wrote of the panel "c'est incontestablement une oeuvre importante et bien conservé de Jorge Inglés...", and the attribution has been recently endorsed by Dr. Isabel Mateo Gomez, to whom we are grateful. According to Chandler Post the panel was for a long time considered to be by the Nuremberg painter Hans Baldung Grien.1 While now widely considered the work of the mysterious Jorge Inglés, the painting does, from a stylistic point of view at least, have some roots in Germany and in particular with Martin Schongauer's engravings which circulated throughout Spain in the second half of the 15th century. Engravings from both German and Netherlandish painters, like Rogier van der Weyden, provided the starting point for numerous artists in Castile and its surrounds, and especially in the work of Fernando Gallego, the St. Ildefonso Master and of course Inglés himself.
Post was the first to make a connection with another panel, of similar dimensions, depicting St. Christopher, and which he originally attributed to an anonymous hand in Palencia (as he did with the present work), before finally attributing it to the St. Ildefonso Master, an attribution which has stuck ever since (fig. 1).2 Both panels are notable for the remarkably similar pose of their protagonist and for the anatomical exaggerations and unnatural contortions of the drapery and armour, motifs probably inspired by Schongauer engravings. St. George, who was originally conceived looking upwards (see fig. 2), adopts a very similar stance to St. Christopher, and where the latter holds his staff diagonally across his front, St. George holds his spear. Both works were painted in Castile around the same time and demonstrate the dependence of Spanish artists on external sources.
Whatever the source of the design of this panel, it is in the context of an altarpiece commissioned by Iñigo López de Mendoza, Marqués de Santillana, that the present panel should be most relevantly considered. In a codicil to his will of 1455 Santillana ordered that a retable by Jorge Inglés be placed on the high altar in the church of the Hospital de S Salvador in Buitrago, his family's ancestral town.3 Amongst the extant painted parts of this retable are a series of panels depicting the four, half-length, fathers of the church, and a portrait of both the Marqués and Marquesa praying before a sculpted Virgin. Most pertinently, the will describes the details of the altarpiece and these include, as J.J. Martín Gonzalez has pointed out,4 a panel depicting St. George, now untraced. Although impossible to confirm in the absence of more specific details of the panel, it is plausible, given both its subject and its stylistic affinities with other panels from the altarpiece, that the present work may be the missing panel from the altarpiece. Indeed, such is the facial similarity between Santillana and the St. George here that it may have been Santillana himself who in fact provided the model for St George.
The name of the little documented Jorge Inglés suggests that he was of English origin although it seems clear that he received his training in the Netherlands, or possibly Germany, before emigrating permanently to the Iberian peninsula. Typical of him is the vigorous drawing technique (see figs. 2 and 3), and the sculptural and expressive nature of the face; see, for example, the retable of Saint Jerome from the Hieronymite monastery of La Mejorada at Olmedo5 which was painted for Alonso de Fonseca, Bishop of Avila (1469-85). Along with Gallego, Inglés was at the forefront of painting in Castile and its environs at this time, and in view of his great skill as both a draughtsman and painter, as displayed here, it is not surprising that he received commissions from such figures as Santillana and the Bishop of Avila. The rarity and importance of such an accomplished panel from fifteenth-century Spain as this should not be underestimated; indeed its medium alone marks it out for special attention, being amongst the first oil paintings on panel in Spain, a technique that may have been brought to Spain by Inglés himself.
1. See Post, IV, p. 196.
2. Idem, reproduced p. 195.
3. Now in the Palacio del Duque del Infantado, Viñuelas, Spain.
4. See J.J. Martín Gonzalez in The Dictionary of Art, vol. 15, London 1996, p. 834.
5. Valladolid, Museo Nacional Escultura.
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