VICENTE MACIP The Adoration of the Shepherds



(Albaida, ca.1470 – Valencia, 1551)
The Adoration of the Shepherds
oil on panel
72 x 55 cm.; 28 5/8 55 5/8 in.


Benito Domenech, “El Maestro de Cabanyes y Vicente Macip. Un solo artista en etapas distintas de su carrera”, Archivo Español de Arte, 1993, pp: 223–244.
Benito Domenech, Joan de Joanes. Una nueva visión del artista y su obra, Valencia, 2000.
Benito Domenech, Joan de Joanes. Un maestro del Renacimiento, Madrid, 2000.
Benito Domenech, Galdon, : Vicente Macip (h.1475 – 1550), Valencia, 1997. Company, X – Tolosa , “La obra de Vicent Macip que debe restituirse a Joan de Joanes”, Archivo de Arte Valenciano, 1999, pp: 50–61.
Juan Corbalán de Celis y Durán.: “La capilla del oficio de plateros. El retablo pintado por los Hernando y nuevos datos sobre el retablo de los Macip”, Boletín de la Sociedad Castellonense de Cultura, 2011, pp: 247–257.
Samper Embiz, “Tres tablas más que añadir al catálogo de Vicente Macip (Albaida, h.1468 – Valencia, 1551”, Archivo de Arte Valenciano, 2013, pp: 29–35.

Vicente Macip was one of the most significant and long-lived artists in Valencia in the first half of the sixteenth century and together with his son Vicente Joan influenced the art of that city and Spain itself for many years afterwards. He is first recorded there in 1493 as one Vincentius Macip, Pictor retabilis Valentia vicinus (‘a painter of altarpieces living in Valencia’). This beautifully preserved panel of the Adoration of the Shepherds, was itself perhaps part of just such an altarpiece or else a work intended for private devotion. It is thought to be a relatively early work by Macip, painted around 1515 at a time when Valencia was just becoming the principal centre in Spain for the reception of the new artistic ideas of the High Renaissance arriving from Central and Northern Italy, and serves as a fascinating reflection of the great changes that the city’s pictorial traditions were then undergoing.

In this painting Maçip has depicted the Nativity not in the usual stable of Biblical tradition but in a classicising architectural setting beneath slender marble columns and an elegant stone vault. A beautiful mountainous river landscape can be glimpsed through the arches, where the story of the Annunciation to the shepherds is depicted. Such a setting was clearly born of an awareness of Italian Quattrocento painting and its clear and symmetrical space exemplifies the changes being introduced into Valencian art from Italy at the same period. The distant mountainous river landscape and the physiognomy of the kneeling shepherd holding a lamb even hint at a possible awareness on the painter’s part of the art of Leonardo da Vinci and his followers in Lombardy, but it is not possible to say whether these stylistic influences were due to Maçip visiting Italy himself. More likely they were derived from the art of Maçip’s predecessors in Valencia, Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina (1459-1536) and Fernando de los Llanos (fl. 1506-16), both of whom are thought to have trained in Milan, and whose work contained similar architectural features as well as other elements taken directly from Leonardo.

Maçip painted the subject of the Adoration of the Shepherds on several occasions. A larger panel today in the Museo Diocesano in Valencia probably represents the earliest of his versions of this subject, for its forms and composition are still rooted in the native Valencian tradition and the articulation of the figures is much less convincing. The present panel can be most closely compared to a still larger panel today preserved in the Museo Diocesano in Tarragona, with which it shares an increased influence derived from Italian Renaissance forms. Here we again see the Holy Family set close to the spectator in the foreground, while behind them stands a more elaborate and markedly more classical Italianate architectural setting. Although the two paintings are very similar the slightly greater sophistication in the handling and understanding of space might suggest that the Tarragona panel is likely to be the later of the two works.

Both this and the Tarragona panel must be counted among the finest works of this youthful phase of Maçip’s career and anticipate his acknowledged masterpiece, the scenes from the Life of the Virgin painted between 1528 and 1530 for the High altar of the Cathedral in Segovia and still in situ. Both provide clear indications of the austere classical style espoused by Maçip, with its restrained colour and sharply modelled outlines of form. The lack of documentary references to Vicente’s life has led to much confusion between his later works and those of his son, Vicente Joan Maçip, known as Joan de Joanes (c.1510-1579), who clearly helped his father on the Segovia commission. Joan de Joanes continued his father’s classical style, both in collaboration with him between 1530 and 1550 and thereafter independently, but increasingly tempered it with a rather sweeter and softer approach and brighter colours. He would go on to become one of the most celebrated Renaissance masters not only in Valencia but in all of Spain.

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