Reliefs of two apostles from an altarpiece

Girona/Vic, around 1420-1430
52 X 66 cm
MNAC (National Museum of Art of Catalonia)

The reliefs of these two apostles come from a predella on a relief from which no other figures or scenes are known. In predellas where an apostolate is represented, the images are usually matched – faced in pairs and should follow, in principle, the order that the Creed indicates. It is extremely difficult to know which apostles they are as there are no attributes and the phylactery inscriptions have faded out. However, the presence of a monster – demon on the apostle’s shoulder who is on the left – hand side could be considered as one of Saint Bartholomew’s attributes. If such was the case and followed the correct order of the Creed, then the apostles would be Saint Bartholomew and Saint Matthew.

The characteristics of these reliefs, considering the models and the execution techniques, make us place them as some of Pere Oller’s works, who worked in Barcelona, Girona and Vic. As a result of the parallelisms with the high altarpiece from the Vic Cathedral (1420-1430, approximately) and with the sepulcre of Bernat Despujol, canon of Vic (Vic, Cathedral) both in the typologies as well as in the descriptive technique of the beards, the hair, the physiognomies and the smooth, uneven creases from the habits we deduce that the above reliefs, together with the architectures which frame both figures, belong to Pere Oller’s work, from the period when the Vic altarpiece was made. These reliefs are models of one of the leading workshops of the Catalan sculpture at that time, in which the international guidelines from 1400 are still applicable.