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Holy Women

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Holy Women

Author: Unknown

Date: 16th century

Material: Polychromed gesso on wood

Dimensions (cm): H 68 x W 33,5 x D 24,5

Provenance: Guimarães, Colegiada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, Capela dos Pinheiros

Inventory No.: MAS E 3

Of Flemish origin, this beautiful gesso on wood sculpture from the beginning of the 16th century, decorated the Capela dos Pinheiros built in the church of the Colegiada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira.

The quality of the author of this work is revealed in the original form in which it was conceived – sculpted in a single block of wood, the different figures are united by the base though they get separated at the level of the trunk. Also impressive is the drama he managed to endow it with. Each of the Holy Women is turned to their side in uncoordinated movements that convey an intense emotiveness. The fine facial expressions, specially Mary Magdalene’s, the enveloping drapery hanging in long undulating folds and the rhythm produced by the interlacing hands are the most expressive elements of this sculpture.

This sculpture, together with other two (MAS E 2 and MAS E 5), formed a calvary that decorated the Capela dos Pinheiros, located in the ground floor of the bell tower of the Collegiate Church. The Capela dos Pinheiros is the burial place for Doctor Pedro Esteves, Magistrate and Auditor to the Duke of Bragança, and his wife, Dona Isabel Pinheiro. This couple, whose residence was the Solar dos Pinheiros, in Barcelos, was buried in the Collegiate church of Guimarães, where one of their children, Dom Diogo Pinheiro, took holy orders and was prior (between 1503 and 1514)