PAOLO DA SAN LEOCADIO

Reggio Emilia, 1447 – Valencia circa 1520

The Agony in the Garden

Oil on panel

161 x 121.5 cm

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PAOLO DA SAN LEOCADIO

Reggio Emilia, 1447 – Valencia circa 1520

This splendid painting includes an unusual iconographic element characteristic of the Valencian region and depicted by other local artists such as Joan Reixach. This is the presence of the other Apostles, who are also shown asleep, like Peter, James and John, but located in a secondary position further into the pictorial space.

The present example, which is undoubtedly the first surviving work by San Leocadio on this subject, is notable for its technical merit, its varied chromatic range and its evocation of a landscape with a high horizon with clouds and the rock formations so typical of the artist, outlined against a blue sky. The markedly volumetric folds of the drapery are another distinctive trait of this Italian painter. In formal terms, the symbols that evoke Kufic calligraphy on the border of Christ’s mantle recall those of Christ the Saviour in the Museo Nacional del Prado.

The Agony in the Garden can be dated on stylistic grounds to around 1490 when San Leocadio signed the contract to paint the principal altarpiece for the church of Santa María in Castellón. The mestre Paulo is described in the documentation as “lo pus solempne pintor de Spanya”. In the Crónica de Valencia of 1563, Martí de Viciana refers to the altarpiece as “el mayor del Reino”. While no other elements from it are known, it cannot be ruled out that The Agony in the Garden was part of the predella of that altarpiece, which is calculated to have measured approximately 15 metres high.

José Gómez Frechina

Technical data

PAOLO DA SAN LEOCADIO

Reggio Emilia, 1447 – Valencia circa 1520

The Agony in the Garden

Oil on panel

161 x 121.5 cm