Santa Mafalda by Chiari

santa mafalda

Depois de nao ter sido vendido em Junho do ano passado, o quadro de Santa Mafalda de Giuseppe Chiari volta a aparecer na Bonhams. Trate-se de uma obra de grande interesse e que devia, pelo menos, levantar alguma discussao em Portugal.

Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari (Rome 1654-1724)
Miracle of the Blessed Mafalda
indistinctly inscribed ‘**** ELAE SANG** REGIS ET** CISTERCIEÑ*’ (lower edge) oil on canvas, 250 x 174.9cm (98 7/16 x 68 7/8in). unframed
Estimate: £50,000 – 70,000, €58,000 – 81,000

The present painting depicts the blessed Mafalda (1184-1257), daughter of Sancho I of Portugal, who was briefly married to Henry I of Castile in 1215, as represented by the coat-of-arms on the building in the background. The marriage was, however, annulled by Pope Innocent III in 1216 on the grounds of consanguinity and Mafalda returned to her native Portugal. It appears that the marriage was never consummated (her epitaph claims that she died a virgin) and Mafalda joined the Benedictine convent of Arouca where she convinced the community to adopt Cistercian rule. In 1616 her body was discovered to be incorruptable and she was later beatified in the eighteenth century.

It has been suggested that this painting may have been commissioned by Frate Bernardo Castello-Branco, General of the Cistercian Order, who also led the movement to have Mafalda beatified. A slightly later version of the present painting, attributed to Giovanni Odazzi (Rome 1663-1731), can be found in the monastery at Arouca (see Joanni V Magnifico. A pintura em Portugal ao temp de D. Joao V 1706-1750, exhibition catalogue, Lisbon 1994, pp.23-25).

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