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Annotated works

BERMEJO, Bartolomé

(Cordova, c. 1440-Barcelona, c. 1500)

The Flagellation of Saint Engracia

Oil on panel

9.5 x 52 cm

c. 1474-1477

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

N.° inv. 69/35

Acquired in 1962


BERMEJO, Bartolomé on Online collection

In the year 304 the young Portuguese noblewoman Engracia was on her way to Roussillon to meet her betrothed. Passing through the Spanish city of Saragossa, she realised that Dacian, a proconsul in the court of Emperor Diocletian, was persecuting Christians. When she reproached him for his cruelty, Dacian—portrayed on the left of the composition—subjected her to torture. This work came from an altarpiece dedicated to the saint and commissioned for the town of Daroca, in the province of Saragossa.

This work reveals Bermejo’s interest in three-dimensional space, suggested by means of the perspective lines of the floor tiles, the capitals and the canopy of Dacian’s throne. The Roman proconsul is dressed as a Moor, a licence the painter took to convey the idea of evil to loyal Spaniards of the period. Another prominent feature is the marked naturalism of St Engracia’s anatomy and of the faces of the executioner and others characters impassively witnessing the martyrdom. Bermejo was very skilled in depicting different materials, such as the marble of the columns, and the floor and the velvet of the saint’s robe; on Dacian’s throne he applied transparent layers of paint to a golden ground. All these skills were made possible thanks to his command of oil painting, which he no doubt learnt in Flanders.

Bartolomé de Cárdenas, the artist’s real name, was born in Cordova and, after travelling to Flanders and Italy, he worked in Valencia, Catalonia and Aragon. He is prominent among those painters who fully assimilated the Flemish style and stands out, above all, as one of the most original artists of the period.  [J.L.M.G.]

Selected bibliography:

Diego Angulo Íñiguez. The Flagellation of St. Engracia by Bartolomé Bermejo. Art in América, 1939, pp. 155-160.

Chandler Rathfon. A History of Spanish Painting. Cambridge; Massachusetts : Harvard University Press,1941, vol. VIII., pp. 703-709.

Judith Berg - Sobré. S. Engracia Revisited in Fenway·Court. Boston : Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1980, pp. 34-42.

Ana María Galilea Antón. “Bartolomé Bermejo y el retablo de Santa Engracia : estado de la cuestión”en Urtekaria 1989 : asterlanak, albistak = Anuario 1989 : estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 1990, pp. 13-33.

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. 391-405, vol. II. pp. 206-208, il. 132, 132a, 132b.

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.

Judith Berg-Sobré; Lynette M. F. Bosch. Bartolomé de Cárdenas, also called Bertolomé Bermejo. Boston : Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1996, pp. 14-18.

Judith Berg-Sobré. Bartolomé de Cárdenas El Bermejo : pintor errante en la Corona de Aragón. San Francisco : International Scholars Publications, 1997, p. 70, il. 20.

La pintura gótica hispanoflamenca : Bartolomé Bermejo y su época. [Cat. exp.]. Barcelona; Bilbao : Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya ; Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2003, pp. 22-23, 34-35, 102, 141, 147, 148-159, 522-523, n.º 7.

Francesc Ruiz i Quesada. “De Acqui Terme a la Piedad Desplà : textos e iconografías inéditos de Bartolomé Bermejo” en Retrotabulum : estudis d'art medieval, n.º1, 2012, pp. 32-33.

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. 19, n.º 8, ad vocem.

Annotated works