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A Masterpiece of Gothic Painting

One of the most important paintings in Mallorca has to be the altarpiece of Sant Jordi by Pere Niçard (mid to late 15th century). Little is known about the origins of this Gothic painter, also known as Pedro Nisart; his surname might suggest, however, that he came from Nice (France). The painter was active in Mallorca and possibly also in other parts of Spain. He was influenced by the Flemish School, and in particular by Jan van Eyck.

The central panel of the altarpiece, St George and the Dragon, was commissioned in 1468 for the chapel of the Confraternity of Sant Jordi in the church of Sant Antoni de Padua in Palma, and was completed by the artist in 1470. It is said that the panel was based on the lost St. George painting by Jan van Eyck, which was purchased in Valencia for King Alfonso V in 1444. Due to the artist’s foreign origins, he was obliged under guild rules to work alongside an important Mallorcan painter, Rafel Moger. The three smaller panels are attributed to Don Moger.

The painting is highly praised for its masterly execution and the importance of its subject, the slaying of the dragon, as well as for its historical references of the entry of Jaume I de Aragón into Madina Mayurqa, capturing it from the Moors. Most importantly, the painting is historically significant and valuable for its accurate representation of the historical geography of the bay of Palma and its port, even though the walled city is painted in a style suggesting a Dutch rather than a Mediterranean appearance.

The painting was extensively restored a few years ago, courtesy of Sa Nostra, the local Savings Bank, as far as I recall. It is said that no other authenticated work by Niçard/Nisart survives, apart from some etchings. The original masterpiece can be admired in all its splendour at the Museu Diocesà in Palma.

The photo was taken from the Internet. My thanks go to bisbatdemallorca.com.

Moltes gràcies.

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