- Gonçalves, Nuno
flourished 1450–72Portuguese painter.He is recorded as court painter to Alfonso V in 1450, but his works for the Portuguese court have not survived. His altarpiece for Lisbon Cathedral was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755. His six-paneled St. Vincent altarpiece (с 1460–70), discovered only in 1882, is the outstanding Portuguese painting of the 15th century, a remarkable portrait gallery of scrupulously realistic, stiffly posed figures, with affinities to Italian and Flemish art.
* * *▪ Portuguese painterflourished 1450–72Portuguese painter recognized as one of the genuine masters of the 15th century. After the discovery in 1882 of his only extant work, the altarpiece for the convent of São Vicente, he was, despite 400 years of anonymity, finally acknowledged as the founder of the Portuguese school of painting and as an artist of universal importance.Apparently Gonçalves was appointed court painter to the Portuguese king Afonso V in 1450. Francisco de Hallanda, in his Dialogues on Ancient Painting (1548), refers to him as one of the “Eagles”—one of the 15th-century masters—but his name and work were lost to history. His altarpiece for the cathedral of Lisbon was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755, and his other altarpiece on the subject of São Vicente, the patron saint of Lisbon and of the royal house of Portugal, disappeared until 1882, when it was discovered in the convent of São Vicente. It was not until 1931, when this masterpiece was displayed in Paris, that Gonçalves received the international recognition that he deserved.The polyptych for São Vicente (now in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon) consists of six panels, two large and four narrow ones, dominated by the figure of St. Vincent. In the large “Panel of the Infante” the saint is shown being venerated by a group of notables, among them Afonso V. In the other large “Panel of the Archbishop” he is surrounded by clergy and knights. This remarkable portrait gallery of figures grouped in a medieval composition is a meditation on the pilgrimage of souls, of Christians on a voyage of discovery around their patron saint. It is the work of a master who shows some debts to Italian and Flemish art but who also reveals his own remarkable gifts—an economy of line, brilliant handling, superb characterization, and a mastery of composition, all united and all subordinated to the religious vision of the work.
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