Bartolomé Bermejo - Saint Engracia, about 1474

Bartolomé Bermejo (Cordova, about 1436 - about 1498)

Saint Engracia, about 1474

Oil on pine panel, 164 x 73 cm (64 9/16 x 28 3/4 in.)


Object details

Accession number



Created as the central panel of an altarpiece, possibly for the Monastery of San Francisco, Daroca.
Broken up and the panel of Saint Engracia moved to the Palacio de la Justicia, Zaragoza by 1835 (then attributed to the Spanish painter Juan Flemanco, active 1496-1499).
Purchased by the Belgian collector and parliamentarian Léon Mathieu Henri de Somzée (1837-1901) by 1899.
Seen by the American painter and collector Ralph W. Curtis (1854-1922) and Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1900, at the Belgian Pavillion at the Exposition Universelle, Paris (then called Saint Helena).
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the Somzée sale, Brussels for 56,000 francs on 27 May 1904, lot 546, through Fernand Robert, her regular agent in Paris.


Inscribed (on her shoe): IRFM / NOV

Dimension Notes

Frame: 195.3 x 104.2 cm (76 7/8 x 41 in.)


Leonard C. Lindsay et al. Exhibition of Pictures by Masters of the Flemish and British Schools... Exh. cat. (London: The New Gallery, 1899-1900), p. 5, no. 16. (as early Flemish school; from the Court in Zaragoza)
Friedländer. "Ausstellungen." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft (1900), p. 258, no. 16. (as Saint Helena; as attributed to the Spanish school, 1480)
Edgar Baes in Joseph Fievez. Catalogue des Monuments d'Art Antique...Composant les Collections de Somzée..., vol. 2 (Brussels, 24 May 1904), pp. 103-05, lot 546. (as by an unknown Hispano-flemish master, 16th century; probably from the Convent of Saint Engracia in Zaragoza)
Claude Phillips. The Daily Telegraph. London. 13 Dec. 1904. (as by Bermejo)
Herbert Cook. "The Identification of an Early Spanish Master." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs (1905), p. 129. (as by Bermejo, 1470-1480)
Federico Serrano y Sanz. "Documentos relativos a la pintura en Aragón durante el siglo XV." Revista de archivos, bibliotecas y museos (1914), pp. 457-58. (consult for archival sources)
Valerian von Loga. Die Malerei in Spanien (Berlin, 1923), pp. 29-31, pl. 22. (as by Bermejo; from Zaragoza)
Elías Tormo. "Bartolomé Bermejo, el más recio de los primitivos españoles." Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueologia (1926), pp. 9, 13, 48-49, no. 19, fig. 24. (as by Bermejo, about 1474-1495; from Aragon)
Morris Carter. Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court (Boston, 1925; Reprint, Boston, 1972), pp. 215-16.
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 42-44, ill. (as by Bermejo, about 1477; from the Convent of Saint Engracia in Zaragoza)
Morris Carter. "Painted by an artist who probably knew Columbus." Boston Post. 9 Oct. 1932. (as by Bermejo)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 154, pl. 15. (as by Bermejo, probably about 1477; from the Convent of Saint Engracia in Zaragoza)
Diego Angulo Iñíguez. "The Flagellation of St. Engracia by Bartolomé Bermejo." Art in American (1939), pp. 155-59, fig. 3. (as by Bermejo; as part of the same altarpiece with the Flagellation of St. Engracia)
Harry G. Sperling. "Another Panel from the Altar of St. Engracia by Bartolomé Bermejo." Art in America (1941), pp. 230-33. (as by Bermejo; as part of the same altarpiece with the Arrest of St. Engracia; as from the Convent of Saint Engracia in Zaragoza)
"Three Treasures for San Diego." Art News (1942), p. 13. (as by Bermejo)
Ada Marshall Johnson. Hispanic Silverwork (New York, 1944), pp. 53-54, fig. 40. (as by Bermejo)
Stuart Preston. "Saint Engracia" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), pp. 36-37, ill. (as by Bermejo, 1477?)
Ronald Hilton. Handbook of Hispanic Source Materials and Research Organizations in the United States (Stanford, California, 1956), p. 195. (as by Bermejo, probably from Zaragoza)
Chandler Rathfon Post et al. A History of Spanish Painting (Cambridge, 1930-1966), vol. 5, pp. 131-36, fig. 34; vol. 9, pp. 819-20. (as by Bermejo; from Aragon)
Judith F. Berg. "Bermejo's Retablo of S. Engracia." Fenway Court (Oct. 1968), pp. 17-28, fig. 1. (as by Bermejo, before 1477; from a Franciscan monastery in Daroca)
George L. Stout. Treasures from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1969), pp. 144-45, ill. (as by Bermejo, about 1477; now thought to be from Daroca)
Philip Hendy. "The Altarpiece from Pratovecchio." Fenway Court (1971), p. 14.
Eric Young. Bartolomé Bermejo: The Great Hispano-Flemish Master (London, 1975), pp. 50-62, 120, 132, no. A10, pl. 25. (as by Bermejo and studio, after 1474 and almost certainly before 1477)
Juan Francisco Eseban Lorente. Museo Colegial de Daroca (Madrid, 1975), pp. 11-14, 27.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 23-25, ill. (as by Bermejo, before 1474; probably from Daroca)
Judith Berg Sobré. "Bartolomé de Cárdenas, the Piedat de Johan de Loperuelo, and Painting in Daroca (Aragon)." The Art Bulletin (1977), pp. 494-500. (as by Bermejo, about 1474; from church of San Francisco, Daroca)
Judith Berg Sobré. "S. Engracia Revisted." Fenway Court (1980), pp. 34-42, figs. 1, 8. (as by Bermejo, before 1474; from Daroca)
Rollin van N. Hadley. Museums Discovered: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1981), pp. 34-35, ill. (as by Bermejo, about 1474)
Ana Galilea Antón. "Bartolomé Bermejo y el retablo de Santa Engracia. Estado de la cuestióon." Urtekaria Anuario (1989), pp. 15-31, figs. 1, 18-20. (as by Bermejo, 1474-1477)
Ana Galilea Antón. La Pintura Gótica Española en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. Exh. cat. (Bilbao: Museo de Bellas Artes, 1995), pp. 268-81, figs. 150, 154, 170-72. (as by Bermejo, 1474-1477)
Judith Sobré and Lynette M. F. Bosch. The Artistic Splendor of the Spanish Kingdoms: The Art of Fifteenth-Century Spain. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1996), pp. 14-18, no. 1a, figs. 1-1, -2. (as by Bermejo, about 1475; from church of San Francisco, Daroca)
Judith Berg Sobré. Bartolomé de Cárdenas "El Bermejo": Itinerant Painter in the Crown of Aragon (San Francisco, 1998), pp. 215-16, no. 5A, fig. 17. (as by Bermejo; about 1474; as from San Francisco, Daroca)
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 156-57, ill. (as by Bermejo, about 1474)
John Marciari. "The Arrest of Saint Engracia." Italian, Spanish and French Paintings Before 1850 in the San Diego Museum of Art (San Diego, 2015), pp. 89-90. (as by Bermejo; as mid-1470s; from the church of San Francisco, Daroca)
Joan Molina Figueras (ed.). Bartolomé Bermejo. Exh. cat. (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2018), pp. 20, 23, 44, 46, 49-51, 54, 62, 88-89, 153-164, 197, ill. p. 84, cat. no. 7A, fig. 155. (as by Bermejo; as about 1472-77; from the church of San Pedro, Daroca)
Richard L. Kagan. The Spanish Craze: America's Fascination with the Hispanic World, 1779-1939 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019), p. 263.
Letizia Treves et al. Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance. Exh cat. (London: The National Gallery, 2019), p. 48, ill. p. 56, fig. 33.

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Richly dressed in gold brocade and with a cloak trimmed in ermine, Saint Engracia stands before a throne. Engracia was thought to be a fourth-century Portuguese princess who was brutally tortured by the Roman proconsul of the city of Zaragoza. The cult of Engracia became especially popular in Aragon. Bermejo depicts the saint wearing a crown and holding a nail, one of the instruments of her torture; in her other hand is the palm frond which signifies a martyr saint.

This painting was the central panel of an altarpiece. The surrounding works illustrated episodes from the life of Engracia (now in San Diego, Bilbao, and Daroca). The altarpiece was commissioned by Juana García, the wife of notary Juan Fernández Fiero, for a chapel in the church of San Pedro in Daroca. Bermejo was profoundly influenced by the oil paint technique of Netherlandish painting, which he in turn was instrumental in transmitting to other Spanish artists.


Pedro García de Benabarre

Saint Michael Archangel