Saint Vincent Panels

Saint Vincent Panels

The Saint Vincent Panels, or The 'Adoration of Saint Vincent' panels, are a polyptych consisting of six panels that were painted in the 1460s. They are attributed to the Portuguese painter Nuno Gonçalves who was active from 1450 to 1471. They are now housed in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Antique Art), in Lisbon, Portugal.

Found during the late 1880s in the monastery of Saint Vicente de Fora in Lisbon, they depict Saint Vincent of Saragossa, who is the patron saint of Lisbon. This polyptych consists of six separate panels of oak wood, painted with oil or tempera.

The only reference that art historians can use to support the attribution of the painter of the Saint Vincent Panels was written in the sixteenth century by Francisco de Holanda. The reference mentions a great work of art made by the painter that is inferred to be these panels. It also is speculated that the father of Hugo van der Goes collaborated in the painting of the panels, but no concrete proof exists regarding that supposition.

Since their discovery in late nineteenth century there has been a continuing dispute over the identity of the painter and the subjects portrayed on the panels. Some basic questions, still unanswered are,
* what scene, or scenes, are depicted in these panels ?
* who are the sixty persons portrayed ?
* what is the symbolism of the objects in the panels ?
* who ordered these panels painted ?

Even a claim that Prince Henry the Navigator appears in the third panel is still debated. The majority of experts who have studied this polyptych, however, agree that the panels display several social groups of the fifteenth century. They also agree that the children of king João I are represented on these panels, but they don't agree who is whom. The labels displayed for the images below, provide identifications that are merely speculation regarding the children of the king.

The skill of the painter of the "Saint Vincent Panels" is regarded as the highest peak of Portuguese antique art.


* [ Web Gallery description]
* [ Another Web Gallery link]
* [ New York Times travelogue mention]
* [ Discussion (in Portuguese)]

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