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    Sale 11936

    Old Masters: Part II

    14 April 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 214

    Gabriel Guardia (active Manresa 1482-1501)

    God the Father surrounded by the celestial hierarchy


    Gabriel Guardia (active Manresa 1482-1501)
    God the Father surrounded by the celestial hierarchy
    tempera, oil and gold on panel
    53¾ x 52 3/8 in. (136.5 x 133 cm.)

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    This majestic panel was probably the central element of a large polyptych for a church in Catalonia. The brilliantly colored, highly ordered composition represents at center God the Father, holding a celestial orb and blessing with his right hand against a ground of pale yellow and golden flames. He is immediately surrounded by red Seraphim, while at his feet, blue Cherubim kneel and Thrones stand with open books in hand. In perpetual adoration of the Lord, together they represent the highest hierarchy of angels according to a tradition codified in a 5th century text known as De Hierarchia Celesti. The remaining six choirs of angels are depicted in registers on either side of God, and are also identified by banderoles inscribed with their names in Catalan. At left from top to bottom are the Dominations holding orbs and scepters, the Powers clad in armor, and the Virtues, who carry glass vessels. Brandishing swords and crowns, the Princedoms appears at top right. Beneath them are the Archangels holding palm leaves, symbols of Christian martyrdom, and then finally, the Angels who provide a celestial concert by sounding their horns.

    As Chandler R. Post observed, the panel’s inscriptions, pastiglia haloes and overall compositional style reflect its Catalonian origin (op. cit., p. 862.). God the Father bears a striking resemblance to the analogous figure in Gabriel Guardia’s sole documented work, the Altarpiece of the Trinity, painted in 1501 for the Collegiate Basilica of Santa Maria in Manresa. In addition to their strict frontality, both figures share the same solemn expression and virtually identical physiognomies. Further parallels may be found between several of the angels and other figures by the artist, such as the Archangel holding the banderole who is closely related to Saints John and Catherine from the Triptych of the Crucifixion in Barcelona Cathedral.

    The contract for the Manresa retable identifies Gabriel Guardia as a citizen of that town, but specifies that he was living in Vich[Vic]. Stylistic affinities with the work of the Catalan painter Jaume Huguet (c. 1415-1492) have led some scholars to suggest that Guardia may have been his student, although the possibility that he was an independent master who took inspiration from Huguet’s works must also be considered (see J. Molina i Figueras, Arte, Devoción y Poder en la Pintura Tardogótica Catalana, Murcia, 1999, p. 89; and B. Rowland, Jr., 'Gabriel Guardia: A Fifteenth Century Painter of Manresa', The Art Bulletin, XIV, no. 3, September 1932, pp. 242-257).


    Private collection, Milan.
    Anonymous sale; Berkowitsch, 15-16 February 1983, lot 159.
    Private collection, Madrid.
    Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, Madrid, 11 November 1997, lot 4.

    Saleroom Notice

    This Lot is Withdrawn.

    We are grateful to Santiago Alcolea for providing the following additional provenance for this lot:
    (Probably) Foresti sale; Galerie Fischer, Lucerne, 23-26 August 1939, lot 1592, as Catalonian School, 15th century.
    Working from a photograph, Dr. Alcolea further suggests that this painting is by Joan Gascó (active Navarra, c. 1500–1529 Vic).

    Pre-Lot Text



    C. R. Post, A History of Spanish Painting, IX, part II, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1947, pp. 862-864, fig. 369.
    J. Gudiol and S. Alcolea I Blanch, Pintura Gótica Catalana, Barcelona, 1986, p. 210, no. 696, fig. 1051.