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Holy Face
Room 12



Renaissance

Joan Gascó

Holy Face

Place of execution unknown
Around 1513
Tempera and oils on wood
47.5 x 35 cm (with frame)
From Vic Cathedral (Osona)
MEV 1947

This is the most emblematic of all Joan Gascó's paintings, where the Joan Gascó most influenced by the Flemish style comes to the fore. To begin with, and as a result of this influence, the panel was wrongly attributed to the German school and the painter Bartolomé Bermejo, from Córdoba. The attribution to Joan Gascó was not formulated until 1944 and is, for the time being, beyond question, above all for the extraordinary likeness it bears to the prophet David from the high altarpiece in the parish church of Sant Esteve in Granollers, also adjudged to be by the painter Joan Gascó, now in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC 24.150). It is precisely this latter work that allows us to speculate about the date the Holy Face was painted, around 1513, as the prophet David on the Granollers altarpiece was painted before February 2nd of that year. As for its provenance, it is known that it was already in Vic Cathedral in the 16th century, where it remained until the foundation of the Museu Episcopal de Vic. In 1868 – by which time the panel was in disuse – it was found by Canon Jaume Collell, from Vic, behind a towel in the old lavabo in the canons' sacristy. It shows the bloody head of Jesus Christ ulcerated by the crown of thorns and with the chain round his neck. The treatment of the face and the radial design of the halo direct the spectator's gaze onto the eyes of Christ, in which Joan Gascó has concentrated all the expressive force of the image, of an unusual intensity in late Gothic Catalan painting.


Room 12
Floor 1
9-10-11 Gothic Art
12-13-14 Renaissance
15-16 Textiles and Clothing
17 Glass

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