Since its discovery in the thirties of the nineteenth century in the Monastery of Santa María del Parral de Segovia, during the disentailment of the Church, The Source of Grace It has been one of the most mysterious works of Prado Museum. The controversy that has surrounded it for decades has to do with authorship (it has been awarded to a dozen different artists), with its origin and, even, with the theme it represents.
The scientific work carried out the last year and a half in the restoration workshop of the Prado, with the sponsorship of Iberdrola, throws all possible light on the work. The restored painting is the main piece of an exhibition that can be seen until January 27. Later it will be exhibited next to the primitive flamencos. The table, measuring 181 x 119 centimeters, was painted between 1440 and 1445. Divided into three levels, Christ stands next to the Virgin and St. John with the lamb at his feet, from which springs the spring that gives the title to the painting. The central part is populated with musical angels and singers and below, a representation of the nobility and the Church is confronted with a group of Jews.
Andrés Úbeda, Deputy Director of Conservation and Research at the Museo del Prado, explains that this masterpiece represents the drama of paintings without an author. Attributed to Jan van Eyck, when it was confirmed that she had not been executed by the most famous painter among the Flemish primitives, she took on a secondary role within the collection. Úbeda regrets it, because he considers that in museums you have to pay more attention to paintings than to their posters.
Enrique Quintana, coordinator of Restoration and Documentation, listed the discoveries made by María Antonia López de Asiaín in the restoration. In the first place, the cleaning has allowed to recover the original beauty and color (green, blue and dazzling reds), lost by the successive varnishes and the 600 years since it was painted.
The chemical analysis of pigments and infrared reflectography, among other methods, allow experts to assure that it is not a copy, but an original work in which an anonymous artist made drawings and sketches and changed his mind several times about elements of the composition. It is known that it was painted in Flanders and not in Spain for the pigments used. The author believes that it had to be someone very close to Van Eyck, although the experts can not claim to be part of his workshop. The research places the first known documentation of this table in Castilla. It was a gift that Henry IV made to the monastery of Parral before 1454. Although it was executed in Flanders, historians indicate that the commission for the work could start from Castile.
In the small exhibition that surrounds The Source of Grace The popularity it achieved before it runs out of authorship is verified. One of the most curious pieces is the photograph of Jean Laurent, from 1859, the first one that was taken from a work of the museum and the most reproduced in posters and programs of the art gallery.