Master of San Ildefonso (active from the end of the 15th century), Saints Paul and James the Great (St James of Compostela), c. 1460-1500

Master of San Ildefonso (active at the end of the 15th century), Saints Paul and James the Great (St James of Compostela), c. 1460-1500. Oil on wood. Gold foundation. 163.5 x 95 cm. KMS3389. 
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The current fashion for pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain dates back to medieval times. Then as now, the pilgrims’ objective was to visit the grave that, according to legend, holds the earthly remains of St James. Here he found rest after a life of travelling and missionary work.

Sombre travelling
Art often portrays him as a pilgrim, wearing a cloak and a broad-brimmed hat, holding a staff – sometimes with a gourd filled with water dangling from its end. Here, the anonymous master has given James the physical traits usually associated with him – a wispy beard, brown hair and a centre parting. Next to him is St Paul, and their sombre expressions echo the Latin inscription around them: “Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me [in thy hot displeasure]” (Psalms 6:1-2).

Updated: 26.apr.2018
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