Chronological frameworkHe was in Portugal between ca.1325 and 1345 (only documented between 1334 and 1337)
Geographical FrameworkProbably France (?) - Catalonia, Valencia, Castile and Leon, Portugal
Stone carving (limestone and marble):
- Sculpture in the round.
- High and low relief.
Profile and historiographical debate
[Meestre pero – mestre dass hijmageenss]
Master Pero (a traditional name in Crown of Aragon) is the sculptor that as master of images is mentioned in two Portuguese documents from the XIVth Century. In addition, he is, among the few documented artists in Portugal, the most paradigmatic example in the introduction of new sculptural elements in the Portuguese milieu. He is also the most studied case among the artists involved in circulation or migration of the artistic agent. He probably came from the old Crown of Aragon. His stylistic features allow relating him from the begining to the workshop that was in charge of the carving of Jaume II of Aragon and Blanca of Anjou’s tombs (GONÇALVES, 1923 and his followers). As it is infered from one of the documents, he was established in Coimbra, probably, under the protection of queen Isabel of Aragon (The Holy Queen), and very close to one of the soft limestone quarries of Coimbra (in Ançã, Outil or Portunhos). In spite of the many works that the Portuguese historiography has attributed to this sculptor, his name is only mentioned in two documents. The first document is a contract for the carving of Gonçalo Pereira’s tomb, who was Braga’s archbishop, and which is dated in 1334. In this document he is mentioned as Master Pero, who was living in Coimbra, as well as another sculptor: Telo Garcia, who lived in Lisbon. The second document, dated in 1337, is a payment bill for the carving of a tomb for the Byzantine princess D. Vataça de Lascaris, who was one of The Holy Queen ladies (Old Cathedral of Coimbra). Most of the scholars consider that Master Pero, individually or being part of a workshop, he had carved for The Holy Queen, -who became his main patron-, her tomb (ca. 1326-1330), and D. Isabel’s tomb (queen’s granddaughter) (ca. 1326), who were both buried in the Convent of Santa Clara la Vieja de Coimbra. He also carved for the queen some altar images, especially, images of the Our lady with the Child, as well as some of his Our ladies of the O. Moreover, it has been attributed to him the fountain of the cloister and some other ornaments of the Convent of Santa Clara de Coimbra (MACEDO and BERNARDO: 2005). Master Pero’s art, in both funerary sculpture and sculpture in the round, was meant to be an innovative and ground-breaking element in local art and they have to be placed in a transitional period in which took place the adaptation of Portuguese sculpture to the foreign models. Those were strongly influenced by French art, specially the sinuous draperies, as well as the faces and gestures of female figures, and even new iconographical themes.
The eventual connection between Master Pero and the workshop that carved the Royal tombs of Jaime II and Blanca of Anjou in Santes Creus is still an open question (FERNANDES: 2000 and 2005). Nowadays, it is known that this Royal Catalan set was made by a very well-documented sculptor whose name is Pere de Bonneuil. Hence the importance of identifying what kind of connection might exist between him and the so-called Master Pero (Master Pere) established in Coimbra. Were they different sculptors that shared the same name and the same work? Was one of them the other one’s disciple? Perhaps, Pere de Bonneuil adopted Pero as name when he crossed the Portuguese border and he started being mentioned as “mestre das imagens” (master of images) and leaded a prolific workshop.
In the last years, through a comparative approach between the Catalan works of the monastery of Santes Creus (tombs and cloister) and the works attributed to Master Pero from the second quarter of the XIVth Century, it is possible to demonstrate some artistic transferences and, as a result of that, a clear derivation of the Master’s works from the “royal workshop” of Santes Creus. (FERNANDES: 2005).
In addition, Agustí Duran and Joan Ainaud (DURAN SANPERE and AINAUD DE LASARTE: 1956) suggested a clue that was recently revisited by Francesca Español (ESPAÑOL: 2002). This clue is based in an image of Our lady that was made for the Convent of La Sierra del Montblanc and attributed to Pere de Bonneuil, and it allows us to connect it with several Portuguese images of Our lady with the Child attributed to Master Pero. The iconography of Our lady of La Sierra del Montblanc is the Virgin being crowned by the Child. This theme which probably derived from French art was introduced in Portugal by Master Pero. He represented this motif in Portugal for the first time in images such as the Virgin of the sepulchre of D. Gonçalo Pereira (documented), the Virgin of the Cathedral of Évora (attributed) and even the Virgin of the Chapel of the Blacksmiths (attributed). These latter are more than a metre high and they wore a very similar costume to that of the Montblanc’s Virgin. All these examples allow us to widen the comparative framework (France-Catalonia-Portugal) showing the existence of artistic transferences, both stylistic and iconographical. It is important to remember that Catalan works of Pere de Bonneuil introduced as well in Catalonia new stylistic models from Parisian workshops. These are mainly the female draperies whose typological models were used in the carving of the images of Our lady with the Child and in the leaning image of Blanca of Anjou. It is also seen in the formal models and the features of the Virgins attributed to Master Pero, today preserved in Portuguese museums and churches.
When Pere de Bonneuil finished his work in Catalonia, he and other sculptors might have proceeded with some other patrons in the Iberian Peninsula. In my opinion, this workshop and its stylistic and iconographic features are also found in Morella (Archpriest Church) or in Palencia Cathedral. In spite of the fact that all these works cannot be attributed to the same master, they could be attributed to the same workshop. This workshop was leaded from the beginning by a master who kept using the models he already knew, and was probably responsible for the most significant and expressive works with regards to the patrons.
We don’t know yet wether the sculptor recruited by the queen Isabel was Pere de Bonneuil or one of his disciples with the same name. This issue remains unresolved. I wonder if it is possible to set up an artistic itinerary of this workshop of sculptors. The starting point could be Bonneuil-sur-Marne (in the Parisian region) with the sculptor Pere. This one is documented in Catalonia until 1316 as responsible for the commitment of Santes Creus, where he might create a workshop with some disciples in order to continue his work in other places following new commitments. All these questions remain unresolved.
- Sepulchre of D. Gonçalo Pereira, Braga’s Archbishop, (1334).
- Sepulchre of D. Vataça de Lascaris (1337).
- Sepulchre of the princess D. Isabel, ca. 1326.
- Sepulchre of the Holy Queen (workshop), ca. 1326-1330.
- Sepulchre of Rui do Casal, ca. 1337-1340.
- Sepulchre of Domingos Joanes and Domingas Sabachais, 1341.
Images of sculpture in the round
- Our lady with the Child, (MNAA - inv. 984).
- Our lady with the Child of the church of Podentes, (MNMC - inv 4069; E24).
- Our lady with the Child (fragmented) - (MNMC - inv 3995; E 22).
- Our lady with the Child (Founder’s Chapel of the Cathedral of Évora).
- Our lady with the Child of the mother church of Portunhos (nowadays in the cemetery chapel).
- Our lady with the Child of the Chapel of the Blacksmiths.
- Our lady with the Child of the mother church of Cárquere.
- Our lady of O of the Old Cathedral (MNMC - inv 645).
- Our lady of O (MNAA - inv 1086 Esc).
- Our lady of O (MNAA - inv 1090 Esc).
- Our lady of O (MNAA - inv 1887 Esc).
- Our lady of O (MNAA - inv 1087 Esc).
- Our lady of O of the mother church of Castelo de Moimenta da Beira.
- Our lady of O of the Chapel of Saint Peter of Balsemão.
- Our lady of O (MRL – inv 645).
- Our lady of O of the church of Saint John of Tarouca (MRL – inv 129).
- Our lady of O of the Museum of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
- Martyr (MNMC – inv 647 E19).
- Saint Jaques (MNMC - inv 644 (?)).
- Saint Jaques (MNAA – inv 992 Esc).
- Saint Peter (MNAA – inv 1061 Esc).
- Saint Peter (Founder’s Chapel of the Cathedral of Évora).
- Saint Clara (MNAA - inv 1077 Esc).
- Equestrian statue of the Chapel of the Blacksmiths (MNMC - inv 704 E3).
- Group of the Annunciation of the church of Santa María da Alcáçova de Montemor o Velho.
- Altarpiece of the Chapel of the Blacksmiths (Oliveira do Hospital).
- Altarpiece of the Annunciation of the church of Samora Correia.
- Apostolate of the porch of the Cathedral of Évora.
- Fountain of the cloister of the Old monastery of Santa Clara la Vieja in Coimbra (Centro interpretativo do Mosteiro de Sta. Clara, Coimbra, which was discovered in the excavations of 1992).
- Three lions (sepulchre bases). Monastery of Santa Clara la Vieja. They were discovered in the excavations (Centro interpretativo do Mosteiro de Sta. Clara, Coimbra).
- Braga’s Archbishop.
- D. Gonçalo Pereira.
- D. Vataça de Lascaris.
- (Alleged): Reina Isabel.
- Rui do Casal (Santarém).
- Domingos Joanes and Domingas Sabachais (Oliveira do Hospital).
- Bishop of Lamego, unidentified.
- Bishop D. Pedro Martínez Argote (Évora).
- Priests of different Parrish from Lamego and Évora.
Inscription dated in ca. 1341, located in the altarpiece of the Chapel of the Blacksmiths (funerary chapel of the knight Domingo Joanes and his wife Domingas Sabachais) adjacent to the parrish church of Oliveira dos Hospital.
ESTAS : PEDRA / S : DE : ESTAS : LI / MASIES : VEEROm / DE : PURTUNAS
“estas Pedras de estas Imagens vierão de Portunhos” (“these Stones of these images came from Portunhos”).
(Transcription of Mário Jorge Barroca, 2000: 1628-1632).
[Documentation mentions him as Meestre pero – mestre dass hijmageenss]
- 11th June 1334. List of conditions for the ending of the tomb of D. Gonçalo Pereira. Signed in Lisbon. (Arquivo Distrital de Braga – Gavetas de Capelas, Sucessões e Vínculos, doc. 11).
- 29th January 1337. Document concerning the payment of the sepulchre of D. Vataça de Lascaris. (IANTT, Seu de Coimbra, 2a incorpo. M. 88, núm. 4200).
Text: Carla Varela Fernandes
MACEDO, I: 93-114, 199; SANTOS: 272-274; GONÇALVES, 1923: 98; CORREIA, 1924: 41, 71, 85-89; CORREIA, 1924: 203; CORREIA, 1924; LOZOYA, 1934: 239; CORREIA, 1937: 1; CORREIA, 1941: 23; LACERDA, 1942: 441-449, 526; DEL ARCO; 1945: 220; CORREIA, 1947; CORREIA AND GONÇALVES, 1947; SANTOS, 1948: 25-39; CORREIA, 1953: 42-47; DURAN SANPERE AND AINAUD DE LASARTE, 1956: 119; DIAS, 1986: 116-119; MACEDO, 1986: 155-163; RUIZ MALDONADO, 1991: 29-70; BARROCA, 1992: 196; ROSAS, 1993: 22; MACEDO, 1995: 335-355; ANDRADE, 1997: 32; FERNANDES, 1997: 99-112; CARVALHO, 1998: 26-27; CARVALHO, 1999: 72; BARROCA, 2000: 92; BARROCA, 2000: 1627-1632; CARVALHO, 2000: 242; CARVALHO, 2000: 241; CARVALHO, 2000: 240; FERNANDES, 2000: 243-271; MAURÍCIO, 2000: 239-240; VAIRO, 2000; ALMEIDA, 2002: 163-168, 204-205, 225-230; ESPAÑOL, 2002: 52-53; DIAS, 2003: 27-34, 40; FERNANDES, 2005: 873-899; MACEDO AND BERNARDO, 2005: 195-202; CARVALHO, 2009: 189; GOULÃO, 2009: 19-25, 62-68; MACEDO, 2009: 190-192; CAETANO, 2011: 30.