The Alzira Master is named after his altarpiece dedicated to the Virgin painted for the Church of Saint Augustine in the village of Alzira in the region of Valencia, the wings of which are dated 1527. The altarpiece was dispersed during the Spanish Civil War and five of the panels are today in the Colegio de los Padres Escolapios, Gandía. Other works by the artist include a painting of Saint Michael Archangel in the Museo de Bellas Artes, Valencia, the Allegory of Human Passions in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest and a panel from an altarpiece dedicated to Saint James the Greater in the National Gallery of Art, Dublin.
The present work reveals a number of characteristics that are typical of the Alzira Master’s distinctive style, above all a predilection for rendering figures in profile, the linear treatment of the folds of drapery and the highly detailed depiction of the landscape, which reveals both a Milanese and Flemish influence. Within the artist’s known œuvre this newly discovered Saint John the Baptist reveals particular affinities with the aforementioned altarpiece dedicate to Saint James the Greater in the National Gallery of Art, Dublin, which is dated 1553 and provides a likely indication of the date of execution for the present work.
We are grateful to Dr. José Gómez Frechina for endorsing the attribution to the Alzira Master, for suggesting a date of circa 1540–55 and for pointing out that this is one of the finest known works by the artist. His certificate, dated 20 October 2015, accompanies this lot.
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