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JAIME (Jaume) HUGUET and his workshop (Valls circa...

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JAIME (Jaume) HUGUET and his workshop (Valls circa 1415-Barcelona 1492) Saint Magdalene Oil on altarpiece panel, egg painting on rectangular pine panel (old restorations) 103.5 x 69 cm Thickness: 3 cm Provenance : Collection of surgeon Henri Hartmann, Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, until 1951 ; Remained in the family. In front of a conch-shaped niche resting on columns with gilded capitals and bases, Saint Madeleine is placed in front of a cloth of honor imitating velvet embossed with vegetal motifs painted in black on a gold background. The sectioning of the panel has removed the feet of the saint, who stands slightly turned to the left. She is dressed in an ample red mantle lined with green, highlighted with gold piping in relief, which opens wide to reveal a long-sleeved violet dress pleated at the waist, its bust embellished with gold braids in relief. With her right hand, she holds the jar of ointments (her attribute), while her left hand holds the sacred book and a section of her cloak. Her oval face, with its open forehead framed by long, bifid hair, exudes an expression of gentle, meditative melancholy. Jaime Huguet was born in Valls (Tarragona province) around 1412. When his father died in 1419, he and his brother Antoni were placed under the tutelage of his uncle, the painter Pere Huguet. After an initial apprenticeship with the latter, who had settled in Tarragona around 1424, Jaime continued his training in Barcelona, where he followed his uncle in 1434.Between 1434 and 1448, some critics (Gudiol, Alcolea, Ainaud de Lasarte)[1] have suggested that Jaime Huguet, now a trained painter, may have stayed in Saragossa, following Archbishop Dalmau de Mur, who had previously headed the Tarragona diocese. A little later, his stylistic imprint is to be found on Aragonese painters, notably Martin de Soria. In the absence of precise documentation, this stay is denied by critics such as Rosa Alcoy[2], who assume that the painter was active in Catalonia at the time. Documents do not confirm Jaime Huguet's definitive move to Barcelona until August 1448. He married in 1454. A recognized painter, he ran a large workshop, surrounded by assistants, and took on numerous commissions from the king, religious brotherhoods and commercial guilds in the city and the Catalan region. From the altarpiece of Saint Vincent de Sarria, circa 1450-1460, to the one dedicated to Saint Sebastian and Saint Tecla (Barcelona, cathedral) documented from 1486 to 1498[3], there are some ten altarpieces, often monumental, from Huguet's workshop. Our Saint Magdalene was undoubtedly created in this workshop, under the direction of Jaime Huguet. The Vergos family[4], linked to Jaime's family since 1454 and one of whose members, the painter-decorator Jaume Vergos II, was a witness at Huguet's wedding, were the main assistants to the master. Vergos II's two sons, Pau and Rafael, continued the ties between the two families after Jaime Huguet's death in 1492. Indeed, critics have noted the presence of one of these assistants in certain scenes of the altarpiece of Saint Augustine (Barcelona, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya) for the eponymous convent in Barcelona, commissioned in 1463 and completed in 1486, of which Huguet produced only the Episcopal Consecration of the saint and, in the predella, the Last Supper and the Ascent to Calvary (Museu Marès, Barcelona) (cf. Gudiol, Alcolea, figs. 835,837,78). Jaime Vergos II was also responsible for a large part of the altarpiece of Saint Stephen in Granollers (1493-1500) (Barcelona, Museu Nacional d'art de Catalunya), which he executed after the death of his son Pau in 1495 and that of Jaime Huguet in 1492. It is precisely to this atmosphere surrounding Jaime Huguet and his workshop that several historians have proposed to link this as yet unpublished Saint Magdalene. Consulted in 1987-1990 by its last owner, Charles Sterling (letter dated September 18, 1987) placed it at the end of the artist's career, while M. C. Farré i Sempera attributed it to Jaime Vergos[5]. In this as yet undiscovered altarpiece, alongside Huguet's soft, penetrating expression, we detect a drier execution in the description of the garment and ornamentation, suggesting the hand of a collaborator. It was undoubtedly the latter who later executed the Carrying of the Cross (Barcelona, MNAC no. 24.154), the predella panel of the altarpiece of Saint Etienne de Granollers, which reproduces the scene with the same subject painted by Huguet in the altarpiece of Saint Augustin (Barcelona, Musée Marès). We must therefore assume a collaboration between the Vergos and Jaime Huguet, as illustrated by our Madeleine. [1] J.Gudiol and S.Alcolea (Pintura Gotica Catalana, Barce