Lluís Dalmau : The Virgin of the councilors (1445)

(Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, Barcelona, Spain)

An important painting by the Spanish artist Lluís Dalmau (active 1431-1460). Lluís Dalmau was sent in 1431 by king Alfonso V the Magnanimous of Aragon (1396-1458) to Flanders to learn the 'new realistic art of painting' introduced by the Flemish Primitives (artists such as Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Dieric Bouts, Petrus Christus, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes and Hieronymus Bosch). Upon his return Dalmau used this knowledge to create this large altarpiece for the chapel of the City Hall in Barcelona. The large size of the piece (316 x 312.5cm), the use of oil paint and the setup of the figures as a whole was a breakthrough in Catalonia. Depicted in the center is the virgin Mary with child Chirst, She is flanked by the 5 donors and city councilors of Barcelona of that year (Joan Llull, Francesc Llobet, Joan Junyent, Ramon and Antonio de Savall Vilatorta), several angels and two saints (left saint Eulalia of Barcelona, patron saint of Barcelona, and right saint Andrew. Saint Andrew is included on the piece because the election for the city councilors was held every year on November 30th, the feast day of Saint Andrew. It is clear that Dalmau was inspired by Jan van Eyck as several figures on this painting, such as saint Andrew and the singing angels in the back, are copies from the famous 'Adoration of the Mystic Lamb' by Jan and Hubert van Eyck. A nice detail are the tiles on the floor which from an octagonal design with the shield of the city of Barcelona. Painting from 1445.

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