Auction Lot: 35121694
Estimated Value : 20000-22000 €


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DESCRIPTION

ANTONIO DEL CASTILLO Y SAAVEDRA (Cordoba, 1616 - 1668).
"The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew".
Oil on canvas.
Measurements: 138 x 99 cm; 165 x 125 cm (frame).
Work that represents Saint Bartholomew being martyred, the author places the protagonist in the centre of the composition that follows a triangular pattern of classical character. This allows for an easy reading of the subject matter represented. It is worth noting the treatment of colour, with a palette of bright, saturated colours that gives the work expressiveness, thus harmonising with the subject matter depicted.Bartholomew was one of Jesus' apostles, and is mentioned in the Gospels always in the company of Philip. According to John, in whose Gospel he appears under the name of Nathanael, he was one of the disciples to whom Jesus appeared at the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection. According to the Acts of the Apostles, he was also a witness to Jesus' ascension. The tradition recorded by Eusebius of Caesarea recounts that Bartholomew went to preach the Gospel in India, where he left a copy of Matthew's Gospel in Aramaic. Armenian tradition also attributes to him the preaching of Christianity in the Caucasian country, together with St. Jude Thaddeus, and both are considered patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Their martyrdom and death are attributed to Astiages, king of Armenia and brother of King Polymius, whom the saint had converted to Christianity. When the priests of the pagan temples, who were running out of followers, protested to Astiages about Bartholomew's evangelising work, the ruler sent for him and ordered him to worship their idols, just as he had done with his brother. When the saint refused, the king ordered him to be flayed alive in his presence until he renounced God or died. The image of Saint Bartholomew has undergone few modifications throughout the history of art, but it is common to depict the saint at the moment of martyrdom. Thus, he is depicted being flayed, either on a rack or tied to a tree. He has also been depicted working miracles: resurrecting the sons of King Polymius and freeing the demon-possessed daughter of King Polymius. On rare occasions he is shown being scourged. He is sometimes depicted with a large knife, alluding to his martyrdom, according to which he was flayed alive, which is why he is the patron saint of tanners. In connection with his martyrdom, he is also sometimes depicted skinned, his skin being held on his arm as if it were a piece of clothing. In the Baroque period it would be common to see him depicted as an apostle, wearing a long white cloak, reciting the Holy Scriptures and showing his knife.
Antonio Castillo is considered the father of the Cordovan school, known for his work as a painter, he was also a polychromator and designer of architectural, decorative and goldsmith's projects. He was the son of Agustín del Castillo, a little-known painter from Llerena (Extremadura) whom Palomino describes as an "excellent painter". It is also thought that he may have trained as a polychromator in Calderón's workshop. However, he was orphaned at the age of ten in 1626 and went on to train in the workshop of another painter of whom we have no record, Ignacio Aedo Calderón. Although there is no real evidence of this, it is thought that he may have arrived in Seville, where, according to Palomino, he entered Zurbarán's workshop. This has been corroborated by the stylistic influence of the Extremaduran master that historians have seen in Castillo's work. However, in 1635 he returned to his native Cordoba, where he married and settled permanently, eventually becoming the city's most important artist without question. His fame and quality earned him important commissions, including religious altarpieces, portraits and medium-format series. He was also the teacher of outstanding Cordoban painters of the following generation, such as Juan de Alfaro y Gámez.

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