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Adoration of St-Vincent, Nuno Goncalves

Adoration of St-Vincent, Nuno Goncalves

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Nuno Gonçalves, (flourished 1450–72), Portuguese painter recognized as one of the genuine masters of the 15th century. After the discovery in 1882 of the only extant work certain to be his—the altarpiece for the convent of São Vicente—he was, after 400 years of anonymity, finally acknowledged as the founder of the Portuguese school of painting and as an artist of universal importance.

Apparently Gonçalves known for Renaissance Art, was appointed court painter to the Portuguese king Afonso V in 1450. Records also indicate that he received payment for painting an altarpiece for the Palácio Real in Sintra (1470) and that he was appointed the official painter for the city of Lisbon (Pintor das Obras da Cidade) in 1471. Other than this information, very little is known about his life and the extent of his work. Francisco de Hallanda, in his Dialogues on Ancient Painting (1548), refers to him as one of the “Eagles”—one of the 15th-century masters—but his name and work were lost to history. His altarpiece for the cathedral of Lisbon was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755, and his other altarpiece on the subject of São Vicente, the patron saint of Lisbon and of the royal house of Portugal, disappeared until 1882, when it was discovered in the convent of São Vicente. It was not until 1931, when this masterpiece was displayed in Paris, that Gonçalves began to receive the international recognition that he deserves.

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