• Fine Printed Books, Manuscript auction at Christies

    Sale 5829

    Fine Printed Books, Manuscripts, Traditional Sports

    23 November 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 111

    CONTRACT FOR THE TOMB OF DOÑA MAYOR GUILLÉN DE GUZMÁN (1205-1262, mistress of Alfonso X of Castille and Leon, mother of Queen Beatrice of Portugal), indenture in Spanish, manuscript on vellum by Pedro Juan, public clerk of Burgos, with his notarial mark

    Price Realised  

    CONTRACT FOR THE TOMB OF DOÑA MAYOR GUILLÉN DE GUZMÁN (1205-1262, mistress of Alfonso X of Castille and Leon, mother of Queen Beatrice of Portugal), indenture in Spanish, manuscript on vellum by Pedro Juan, public clerk of Burgos, with his notarial mark
    Burgos, 24 July 1276 (also dated 1314 in the Hispanic Era)
    32 lines on one membrane, 340 x 318mm (two later dockets on dorse). THE CONTRACT FOR A CELEBRATED, AND NOW LOST, GOTHIC FUNERARY MONUMENT. A contract between the artist Juan Gonçalves, 'el pintor delas Imagenes de burgos', and John Perez, chaplain to Queen Beatrice of Portugal, for 'una sepultura toda de madera de Nogal' (i.e. of walnut) for Doña Mayor Guillén, the figure of Doña Mayor to be modelled in relief on the cover 'y que sea Vestida muy Noble de sus paños de Colores de Oro y de Azul y de Carmin y de Argent y de todos los Otros colores', with two angels in relief at the head and foot; the contract goes on to specify in considerable detail the figures and scenes which decorate the 'tabernaculo' which is to surmount the tomb. The payment is to be 450 coins 'de los din[ar]os blancos que el Rey mando Fazer en el tiempo della guerra', paid in instalments; the tomb is to be completed by the following Easter.

    Although no location is specified, Juan Gonçalvez's commission is undoubtedly for the celebrated polychrome wooden tomb of Mayor Guillén in her monastery of the Poor Clares at San Miguel del Monte (translated with the monastery to the nearby town of Alcocer in 1373), 'considerada una de las mejores obras funerarias de la Edad Media en Guadalajara', which has not been traced since its disappearance at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War; it is now known only from photographs (see Antonio Herrera Casado. Monasterios medievales de Guadalajara (1997), pp.140-142). It is interesting that the commissioner of the tomb should be Queen Beatrice's chaplain: possibly he was also responsible for the iconographical programme. MEDIEVAL ARTISTS' CONTRACTS ARE OF THE GREATEST RARITY; THE PRESENT EXAMPLE PROVIDES AN EXTRAORDINARY LEVEL OF DETAIL FOR A LAVISH AND ELABORATE COMMISSION.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium