Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

St Vincent

Today is the feast of St Vincent of Saragossa, a deacon martyred in the early part of Diocletian's persecution.

He is venerated as the patron of Lisbon, where there survives the St Vincent Panels, a wonderful set of paintings of the veneration of the saint by representitives of the realm of Portugal and dated to the 1460s. It is attributed to the artist Nuno Gonçalves who was working in the years 1450-71. The six panels include some sixty portraits of the leading figures in the life of the kingdom under King Duarte I and King Afonso V. In recent years there has been considerable scholarly debate about the identification of the figures in the painting and there is a good, illustrated, account here.

File:Painéis de São Vicente3.jpg

One of the two central panels depicting St Vincent.

He is flanked by King Duarte I and his Queen Eleanor of Aragon, with King Afonso V and his Queen Isabella of Coimbra kneeling in front with their son, the future King John II on the right.

The panels are a marvellous record of the men and women who shaped Portugal's destiny as it embarked on its great era of expansion, encouraged by Dom Henry the Navigator who appears n the panals, and also of the ruling elite of mid-fifteenth century European kingdom.


Last Knight said...

I hesitate to bang on about tat, but what do you think is going on with the hat in that picture?

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

Do you mean St Vincent's red pileus or King Afonso's stylish headgear?
Assuming you mean St Vincent's headgear I must confess to not being too knowledgeable about late medieval Portuguese liturgical dress, but I wonder if the red signifies martyrdom or might, conceivably, indicate his particular position as the Bishop's deacon.
It might also indicate that medieval artists had a somewhat freer hand with such niceties than historians of tat might wish them to have had.

Kevin said...

This Comment is slightly off topic, but it should appeal to your monarchist sentiments... the recent elections to the presidency of the Portuguese republic showed a strange abstention of a majority of the voting population. The monarchists are claiming a victory of sorts. [http://realfamiliaportuguesa.blogspot.com/2011/01/illegitimate.html]