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San Bernardo altarpiece

  • San Bernardo altarpiece. Majorca Museum. Palma © Ministerio de Cultura

    San Bernardo altarpiece. Majorca Museum. Palma © Ministerio de Cultura





ca. 1300

Cultural background


Original title

Retablo de San Bernardo
Majorca Museum
Majorca, Balearic Islands

This is the first European altarpiece to employ the iconographic cycle of Saint Bernard. It is also the oldest surviving example of medieval Majorcan painting.

The altarpiece has five sections. The saint occupies the central one, with gold and silver plating. The image of “lactatio” (lactation), reproduced here graphically for the first time in Europe, is very important in this piece. The straight lines of the central figure contrast with the curved lines of the images at the side, which suggest movement. The placing of colour also accentuates the rhythm of the composition, always drawing attention to Saint Bernard.

The painting style is linear gothic, which evolved from Byzantine-influenced forms introduced to Mediterranean Europe around the year 1200.

Details of the work


Height = 153 cm; Length = 225 cm


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