Book Series Me Fecit, vol. 2

Retablo de Isabel la Católica

Chiyo Ishikawa

  • Pages: 216 p.
  • Size:210 x 297 mm
  • Illustrations:104 b/w, 25 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2004

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-50958-7
  • Paperback
  • Available

This publication is a monograph about the Retablo de Isabel la Católica by Juan de Flanders and Michel Sittow, and presents a discussion of attribution supported by technical examination of the individual panels.


"(...) Ishikawa reconstructs a solid portrait of an artist at work in his new environment. Her engagement with this single work, chronicling its long life and fully documenting each remaining panel in her catalogue, elucidates issues concerning Isabel's artistic patronage. While expounding the experience of a transplanted Flemish painter in the Castilian court, Ishikawa's detailed analysis provides a useful model for in-depth study of a complex work." (Julia Perratore, in: HNA Review of Books)


This book will be the first serious monograph about the Retablo de Isabel la Católica (ca. 1496-1504) painted by Juan de Flanders and Michel Sittow. After tracing the history and critical history of the altarpiece (and publishing some archival material for the first time), it will present the first discussion of attribution to the supported by technical examination of the individual panels, including infrared reflectography and microscopie examination of the painted surface. Technical examination also supports an interpretation of the artists' treatment of subject matter as being closely related to the religious and political issues that concerned Queen Isabella in the waning years of her reign. The conservatism inherent in the austere painted treatment of the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary is compared to conservative works of religious literature commissioned by or dedicated to the Queen in the years that the altarpiece was being painted. Finally, a brief catalogue of the surviving twenty-eight panels will restore a degree of narrative coherence to a project that is too little understood in large part because of the early dispersal of its paintings. !Winner of the 2005 Eleanor Tufts Award!
"Ishikawa's study is a well-balanced treatment of an important set of paintings linked with Isabel la Católica that illuminate a key moment in the history of Spanish Catholicism. It is an exemplary monograph: thoroughly researched, written with economy and precision, and beautifully produced. In a clear, concise narrative, the author unravels the complex history of the panels and their reception, and relates their subjects and iconography to the patronage of the queen, the religious policies of Hernando de Talavera, and contemporary treatises on the Life of Christ. Her careful consideration of style and technique sustains persuasive arguments about authorship and dating, and the ample catalogue sets a standard for studies of this kind. The author offers important insights into Isabelline patronage and the religious art of the time, and her detailed analysis of the paintings, supported by a superb selection of well-placed illustrations, is a model for the study of artistic practice and the careful scrutiny of works of art themselves." (selection committee of the 2005 Elaenor Rufts Award)