Lot 705
  • 705

Antonio Vázquez

50,000 - 80,000 GBP
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  • Antonio Vázquez
  • An altarpiece with scenes from the Life of the Virgin
  • oil on panel, in an elaborate carved and gilt wood frame


The panels are each supported with three horizontal batons. There is a split running the length of the Crucifixion panel, which also has some losses and lifting of the paint surface. The central Holy Family panel also has a vertical split, which runs part of the way down the panel from the upper margin, and the Presentation in the Temple panel, centre left, also has some losses. It appears possible that a few of the panels have been planed down and laid onto newer panels, some with a gesso and canvas support backing old faults in the painted panel surface. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals scattered areas of retouching throughout the panels, most notably: in the face of Saint Francis, upper left; retouching to the splits in the Crucifixion and Holy Family panels; around the body of the Christ Child in the central Holy Family panel; and in the panels on the lowest tier, in the chest, arm and beard of the body of Christ in the central Deposition panel, and in the faces, clothes and background of the donor panel, lower right.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Antonio Vázquez was one of the most important artists working in Valladolid in the first half of the 16th century, producing works which may still be found today in their original locations in and around the city, such as the Alderetes altarpiece in the church of Salvador, Simancas, dated 1536, or the altarpiece in the church of Santa María la Sagrada, Tordehumos.1 The present altarpiece comes closest to that painted by Vázquez for the convent of Santa María la Real de las Huelgas, Valladolid, dating to 1538-40, which also depicts the Life of the Virgin, with sculpted figures in place of some of the panels.2

Vázquez was a prolific painter, with a sizeable and active workshop, whose style combined elements from other Castillian painters such as Pedro Berruguete, Juan de Borgoña and Juan Correa da Vivar. Accused in later scholarship as displaying backward artistic tendencies, it seems that it was precisely his deliberately archaic, meticulous style and the decorative use of gold, perpetuating the 15th-century Gothic tradition, which won him commissions throughout the city and ensured a technical standardisation amongst his pupils. Indeed, one of the most remarkable characteristics of his œuvre is the lack of stylistic development and the repetition of subjects and motifs – an absence of artistic evolution which must in part be attributable to the tastes and demands of Vázquez’s patrons.

Many of the scenes depicted here appear in others of Vázquez’s works. The meeting of Joachim and Anna is found in the Las Huelgas altarpiece, while the Presentation in the temple is pictured in the altarpiece of the chapel of Our Lady of Capilludos, Castrillo de Tejeriego. There are also prototypes for the panels representing Saint Francis receiving the stigmata and Saint Jerome in the wilderness.3 These figure types are invariably solidly-modelled, impassive and easily identifiable. The only figures in the present work who remain anonymous in their lack of expression and defining characteristics are the two donors, who stand flanked by Saints Paul, Peter, James the Greater and Philip. Also evident here is Vázquez’s predilection for receding Flemish landscape settings and the placement of figures in Renaissance-inspired, rather than Gothic, architectural constructions.

We are grateful to Dr. Isabel Mateo Gómez for confirming the attribution to Vázquez, on the basis of photographs.

1. See J.C. Brasas Egido, El pintor Antonio Vazquez, Valladolid 1985, pp. 21–22 and 24, reproduced figs 17–22 and 25–27.
2. See Brasas Egido 1985, p. 26, reproduced figs 34 and 36.
3. Museo Arqueológico and Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid, respectively; see Brasas Egido 1985, pp. 30 and 34, reproduced figs 51 and 65.