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Annotated works

ANONYMOUS, CATALAN

Noah’s Ark

Tempera on walnut panel

108 x 52 cm

Romanesque and Gothic (12th Century - 15th Century)

N.° inv. 69/256

Acquired in 1959

The Descent from the Cross

Tempera on walnut panel

108 x 51,5 cm

Romanesque and Gothic (12th Century - 15th Century)

N.° inv. 69/255

Acquired in 1959


ANONYMOUS, CATALAN on Online collection

Both works are from St Mary's church in Pessonada, Lleida, where they may have been integrated in a piece of furniture, possibly a baldachin. The supports are made of several pieces of wood horizontally joined and cut at the edges, like some of the elements in the compositions—one of the windows in Noah's Ark, and a figure of which only the halo remains in The Descent. All this proves that these are fragments from larger works.

Noah's Ark depicts the moment the waters go out after the Flood, which explains the importance granted to the dove bearing the olive branch, larger in scale. Through the windows of the boat, the symbol of the Church, we see Noah's family—his wife, his sons Shem, Ham, and Japhet with their wives, and the patriarch, a prefiguration of Christ.

The Descent is complex in its iconography, since it combines elements from two different moments of the Passion. The presence of two characters on the Cross, symbols of the sun and the moon, is a characteristic feature in representations of the Crucifixion, and St John's position is also typical in this biblical episode. The remaining elements, however, refer to the Descent—Mary holds Christ's unnailed hand, while Joseph of Arimathea supports the body and Nicodemus pulls the nails from the feet. The angel on the upper edge sends Christ God's blessing; the Cross, still covered in branches, symbolises the Tree of Paradise.

In plastic terms, the facial features, the anatomy and the volumes in these works are rendered in flat colours, predominantly primary colours, and a diagrammatic though rhythmic treatment of line. In spite of their rudimentary technique, these early Gothic works are expressive representations of two religious episodes that effectively fulfil their didactic purpose.  [J.L.M.G.]

Selected bibliography (Noah's Ark):

W. William Spencer Cook; José Gudiol. Pintura e imaginería románicas. Madrid : Plus Ultra, 1950, pp. 222 y 233.

Joan Sureda i Pons. Cataluña : Tarragona y Lérida. Madrid : Ediciones Encuentro,1981, p. 386, n.º 158.

Ana María Galilea Antón. Catalogación y estudio de los fondos de Pintura Española del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao del siglo XIII al XVIII (de 1270 a 1700). [Tesis inédita]. Zaragoza : Universidad de Zaragoza, 1993, vol. I. pp. 75-79 ; vol. II. pp. 12, 13, 14, 15, il. 10a, 10b, 10c

Ana María Galilea Antón. “La colección de Pintura Española anterior a 1700 en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao” en Urtekaria 1994 : asterlanak, albistak = Anuario 1994: estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 1995, pp. 7-42.

Ana María Galilea Antón. La pintura gótica española en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : catálogo. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 1995, pp. 316-334.

Jose Luis Merino Gorospe. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 13, n.º 2a, ad vocem.



Selected bibliography (The Descent from the Cross):

Manuel Trens. El arte en la Pasión de Nuestro Señor : siglos XIII al XVIII. [Cat. exp.]. Barcelona : Ayuntamiento de Barcelona, 1945, pp. 44 y 92, n.º86.

Ana María Galilea Antón. Catalogación y estudio de los fondos de Pintura Española del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao del siglo XIII al XVIII (de 1270 a 1700). [Tesis inédita]. Zaragoza : Universidad de Zaragoza, 1993, vol. I, pp. 66-74; vol. II, pp. 8, 9, 10, il. 8, 8a, 8b

Ana María Galilea Antón. “La colección de Pintura Española anterior a 1700 en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao” en Urtekaria 1994 : asterlanak, albistak = Anuario 1994: estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 1995, pp. 7-42.

Ana María Galilea Antón. La pintura gótica española en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : catálogo. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 1995, pp. 316-334.

Jose Luis Merino Gorospe. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 13, n.º 2b, ad vocem.

Annotated works