Mezquita-Catedral

Main Altarpiece

Once the work on the transept had been completed, Bishop Diego de Mardones focused his interest on building the Main Altarpiece, making a significant personal donation to this.  From the first moment the designs were commissioned from Alonso Matías who was inspired by the architectural treatises of Palladio and Vignola.  With regard to the materials, he opted for the elegance provided by locally sourced bronze and marble.

The altarpiece is structured into a base, a main body formed by three aisles through four composite capital columns and an top. The tabernacle is flanked by the canvases of Saint Acisclus and Saint Victoria, with the Allegory of the Church and the Allegory of Abundance corresponding to these at the top. The upper vault is presided over by the painting of the Assumption, flanked by the canvases of the martyrs Saint Eulogius or Saint Pelagius and Saint Flora or Saint Digna, who are crowned with the effigies of Justice and Temperance. Moreover, to the sides of the martyr figures are the sculptures of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. In the top  is a relief of God the Father separated from the first body through a cornice with a pediment over which the representations of Faith and Hope rest, holding a wreath.

The paintings, commissioned from Palomino in 1713, replaced the originals by Vela Cobo. All of them are in frames with curved split pediments. With regard to the tabernacle, this was produced by Sebastián Vidal, following the designs of Matías himself. 

Various artists

Alonso Matías
The Jesuit Alonso Matías would go on to be, without doubt, the leading figure of Cordoban altarpiece art of the 17th century. His contribution is key in understanding the evolution of the altarpiece during this period. At the same time his monumental conception of the altarpiece would also be a constant source of inspiration for contemporary works. Along with his design of the Main Altarpiece in Cordoba Cathedral, his most outstanding work, he also carried out that corresponding to the altarpiece at the Church of the Annunciation in Seville 

Sebastián Vidal
17th century architect who mainly worked in the city of Cordoba. He was involved in concluding the work on Santa Isabel de los Ángeles Convent and the façade of Padres de Gracia Conventual Church. His fame comes from his work, as an architect, on the Main Altarpiece of Cordoba Cathedral. In the cathedral he also designed the altarpiece in the Santa Francisca Romana chapel

Pedro Freile de Guevara
This sculptor from Granada did most of his work in the province of Cordoba, including in towns such as La Rambla, Montilla and Luque. The artist, who was appointed senior master of the city and of the diocese of Cordoba, also received commissions in the capital

Antonio Palomino
Painter and treatise writer from Bujalance who moved to the Madrid court. He enjoyed special recognition through his treatise El Museo pictórico y Escala Óptica. In Cordoba Cathedral, along with the canvases on the main altarpiece, he is also author of the three large-format works found on the Santa Teresa chapel: Martyrdom of Saints Acisclus and Victoria, Appearance of Saint Raphael to Father Roelas and the Delivery of Cordoba to Fernando III "the Saint"

Location
Mezquita-Catedral
Technical sheet
  • Título: Main Altarpiece 
  • Author: Alonso Matías (design), Sebastián Vidal (architecture), Pedro Freile de Guevara (sculpture) and Antonio Palomino (painting)
  • Date:1618-1646 and 1713
  • Material and technique: Marble, bronze and oil on canvas
  • Location: Main Altar
Key features of the work
  • The painting presiding over the altarpiece contains the theme of the Assumption of Mary, a dedication under which the Cordoban Cathedral headquarters has existed since the 16th century 

  • The important role of Bishop Mardones in the construction of this altarpiece is clear, from a material viewpoint, from his tomb, which is located to one side of the Main Chapel

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