Lot 7
  • 7

Attributed to Nicolás Francés

60,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • Attributed to Nicolás Francés
  • Crucifixion with the Virgin, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and other figures
  • tempera on panel, gold and silver ground, rounded top


The following condition report has been provided by Karen Thomas of Thomas Art Conservation LLC., 336 West 37th Street, Suite 830, New York, NY 10018, 212-564-4024, info@thomasartconservation.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. A picture that would improve with careful retouching: intact details in the faces of the figures clustered around the cross and in the intricate gilded brocaded garments give a sense of the potential clarity of the painting. Pinpoint losses are found throughout, most noticeably in light passages such as Christ's body and Mary's veil. Larger losses appear to be most concentrated in the blue passages such as Mary's mantle, with smaller losses clustered in the light green garment at the far left, while rubbing is evident along the edges of cross-grain cracks. Wear is visible throughout the gold and silver leaf passages although unusually bright portions of the silver leaf are found in the soldier's helmets on the right. The surface is coated with a layer of dirt and grime, which subdues to color range. The thick wood panel, which retains most of its original coating of vegetal fibers and gesso on the reverse, displays a mild convex lateral warp. Cleaning to remove dirt and old varnish would allow the colors to be brought back into balance while retouching to quiet the background and to address dark cracks and tiny losses would help re-establish the modeling and improve the overall appearance.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This well-preserved and highly detailed depiction of the Crucifixion, which includes both gold and silver leaf, is closest to the work of Nicolás Francés.   While his name implies French origin, Francés lived and worked in León in the northwest of Spain, where he was regularly commissioned to paint for the León Cathedral.  He completed a series of wall paintings depicting the Passion for the Cathedral's cloister between 1451 and 1461, though very few other works by the artist have survived.

The figure style, details, and the vegetation all show a more French influence than Flemish and recall the work of Francés.  The brocade details in the gold as well as the tooling, however, are atypical for the artist and it has been suggested that the painting could be by an artist in Seville who knew of his work.  It has also been proposed that the painting comes out of the workshop of Pedro Sanchez, who was active in Seville circa 1454-1480. 

We are grateful to Francesc Ruiz Quesada and Antoni Pitarch for their assistance with the cataloguing of this painting.