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Title St Roch
Collection Royal Cornwall Museum, Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro
Artist Attributed to circle of Juanes, Juan (Spanish painter, ca. 1510 - 1579)
Attributed to Borrás, Nicolás (Spanish painter, 1530-1610)
Previously attributed to Italian School
Previously attributed to Juanes, Juan (Spanish painter, ca. 1510 - 1579)
Date Earliest probably about 1560
Date Latest 1610
Description St Roch is depicted full-length and in three-quarter profile. Characteristically attired as a pilgrim, he is depicted without his dog and points to the plague bubo on his inner thigh. He is against a plain, sky-blue background with schematic vegetation on the ground. The narrow, elongated format and the subject and stance of the figure indicate that this work was a panel taken from the right-hand side of a polyptych. The Truro panel was possibly the ‘companion' to a St Sebastian - two works which were sold as a single lot in the Meades' sale of 1851 (see Notes). It is indeed likely that St Sebastian (who was habitually paired with St Roch), also appeared in the polyptych, and that figure would probably have appeared on the left side of any central figure and would have faced left-to-right. The polyptych would have included other saints, perhaps others associated with plague and/or pilgrimage such as James and Christopher. Other religious subjects attributed to Juan de Juanes which were sold at the 1851 sale were Matthew and Mark and the Annunciation. (see Notes on lots 219 and 184-86, 1851 sale).
Current Accession Number TRURI:1923.84
Subject religion (St Roch)
Measurements 86 x 30 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Given by Alfred A. de Pass 1923
Provenance Probably acquired in Spain by Hon. General John Mead, before 1851; Hon. General John Meade sale, Christie's, London, 1851, lot 219 [;], as by Juanes, bought by Mr Haines; G. A. Hoskins sale, Christie's, London, 1864, lot 179, as by Borras; Mr A. A. de Pass, 1864 [;].
Publications Penrose, G., Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings and Miniatures in the Alfred A. de Pass Collection, Truro, 1936, cat. no. 26, p. 9, as by Francisco Nicolás Borrás; Wright, C., Old Master Paintings in Britain: An Index of Continental Paintings Executed Before c. 1800 in Public Collections in the United Kingdom, London, 1976, p. 21, as by Fray Nicolás Borras.
Notes

On back of panel, shreds of newspaper 'El H[ora;] / [p]eriodico politico', (no date), probably affixed when the altarpiece was dismantled, first half of the nineteenth century (;); label on back 'G. M. 383' (perhaps Gen. Meades' inventory number); label on back 'Borras, pupil of Juanes, 179 St Roch From General Meads collection Sale of G. R. Hoskins Esq. at Christie's, June 17 1864.'; inscription on back 'St Roch by Barras formerly in collection of general meads & after in that of G A Hoskins Esq the traveller'; inscription on back '590A'

Christie's Catalogue of ‘the very important and extensive collection of Pictures formed by the Hon. General Meade during a long residence in Spain, London, 6-8 March 1851, listed 397 lots, including lot 219 ‘Juanes ... 219 St Sebastian; and the companion, upright - on panel', annotated in ink, left margin: '1. 5.' Annotated in ink, right margin: 'Haines.' The work described as ‘the companion' is probably identifiable with the Truro St Roch. Also sold on 7 March 1851; lot 184 ‘J. de Juanes ... 184 The Annunciation' (annotated 'Smith'); lot 185 ‘J.de Juanes ... 185 St Mark' (annotated 'Cheshire'); lot 186 ‘Ditto ... 186 St Matthew - the companion' (annotated 'Cheshire'); lot 241, ‘J. de Juanes ... 241 The Adoration of the Shepherds' (annotated 'Huntley')

Christie's Catalogue ... of the Very Choice Collection of Italian and Spanish Pictures, Formed ... by that well-known Traveller and Collector, G.A: Hoskins, Esq., Deceased ... June 17 [& 18], 1864, lot 179: ‘Borras (Pupil of Juanes) / St Roch. From General Meade's Collection'

The newspaper affixed to the back of the work is Spanish, and is evidence for a Spanish provenance.

A Christie's catalogue of a sale held on 26 June, 1847, refers to Meade as the ‘Hon. Lieut. General John Meade formerly Consul General at Madrid'. Meade probably acquired the work in Spain possibly together with a panel of St Sebastian from the same altarpiece. The Truro panel is possibly identifiable with a ‘companion' work acquired by a Mr Haines together with a St Sebastian panel in the 1851 sale of Meade's collection on 7 March. At some point, it was certainly acquired a by G.A. Hoskins whose collection was sold after his death at Christie's June 17-18 1864, lot 179, as St Roch by Borrás; the work was possibly acquired at that sale (or thereafter) by De Pass.

Given the tall and narrow dimensions of the panel and the three-quarter turn of the figure, it is likely to have been a side panel. The direction faced by the saint indicates this panel was probably set to the right of the central image of the altarpiece, which may have been of the Virgin and Child. St Roch was famous both as a plague saint and as a pilgrim. As well as St Roch's frequent companion, St Sebastian, another figure appearing in this altarpiece is likely to have been St James because of the popular Spanish pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela.

Note on museum file: Mr ... Hutton, friend of Mr de Pass says it is §Italian, end of 15th century§. Xavier Bray of the National Gallery noted that, whilst this would be considered retardaire in terms of Italian painting, this is a reasonably fine work for Spanish production at this time. Xavier Bray and National Gallery curator Dawson Carr, who suggested the work should be attributed to ‘circle of Juan de Juanes' (also known as: Joan de Joanes and Juan Vincent Macip.)

The attribution to Nicolás Borrás (1530-1610) could well be correct. He is an obscure artist - neither Dawson Carr nor Xavier Bray were acquainted with his work (and nothing was found in Grove), but a couple of references were found. According to the exhibition catalogue Joan de Joanes (1980), Borrás was born in Cocentiana (Alicante) in 1530 and was a pupil of Juan de Juanes. He ordained as a priest in 1560 (hence he is sometimes given the title Fray); he took the Hieronymite habit in 1575 and entered the monastery of Coralba (Valencia) for which he executed the high-altarpiece in 1579. He was very prolific, painting works for the whole region. He died in 1610. A list of works is provided in Alcahali's Diccionario Biográfico de Artistas Valencianos, Valencia, 1897, pp. 72-73, which includes mention of polyptychs and polyptych panels.

Of the few reproductions of works by several pupils (including Vincent Juanes) seen, Borrás' work does indeed seem the most comparable to the Truro St Roch (from a 1980 exhibition catalogue: cat. no. 68, the legs of the resurrected Christ, the body shape and the hands are not dissimilar to that of the St Roch; plate 71, the St James, is fairly similar to the Truro St Roch - note the rather badly drawn feet - the way the right hand holds the staff is identical.

Alfred A. de Pass (1861-1953) was born in South Africa, where his father and grandfather had established a business empire which included interests in shipping, guano, copper mining and sugar farming. After retiring from the family firm at age 36, Alfred pursued his interest in art collecting. For a period he lived in Cornwall, where he took an active interest in the Truro museum, then called the Royal Institution of Cornwall. In 1917 he was elected Associate of the Institution and in 1920 became its Vice-President. His gifts to the museum between 1914 and 1947 included many works of Western European fine and decorative art, including an important collection of old master drawings, as well as Oriental paintings, ceramics, metal work and textiles. For a list of Mr de Pass' donations of Western European paintings and drawings to the Truro museum up to 1936 see G. Penrose (cited below). He also donated to a number of other museums, including the National Gallery, the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, the Fitzwilliam, and the South African National Gallery.

Biographies and discussion of Mr de Pass' interests and donations may be found in: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, The De Pass Collection: Paintings, Furniture, Ceramics etc., Illustrated Catalogue, Bristol, 1936; Popham, A.E., An Exhibition of Drawing from the Alfred A. de Pass Collection belonging to the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro, London, 1957; Walker, R., The De Pass Family, unpublished dissertation, Bristol Polytechnic, 1979; Price, B.D., Biographical Notes on Alfred Aaron De Pass (1861-1952) Art Benefactor Extraordinary, Falmouth, 1982; Nail, N., ‘The Cornish curator and the cosmopolitan collector: a note on George Penrose, 1876-1951, and Alfred de Pass, 1861-1953', Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 1993, New Series II, I, 3, pp. 277-89; Berriman, H., ‘Introduction' in M. Joannides, Exhibition Catalogue of Master Drawing from the De Pass Collection, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, London, 1994, pp. 7-11; Tietze, A., The Alfred de Pass Presentation to the South African National Gallery, exhibition catalogue, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 1995; Irvine, G., and T. Daniel, Japanese Collection, Royal Cornwall Museum, Cornwall, 2001.

Rights Owner Royal Cornwall Museum, Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro
Author Dr Susan Steer
 

 

 

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