Skip to main content

Bartolomé Bermejo

Bartolomé Bermejo

The painter Bartolomé Bermejo (active 1474-1498), beginning under Flemish influence, was among the first Spanish artists to change to the Italian Renaissance manner.

The real name of Bartolomé Bermejo was probably Bartolomé de Cárdenas. Bermejo, meaning reddish, is thought to have been a nickname, but he did sign one of his works that way. He was born in Cordova, and some scholars believe he was Jewish because of a Hebrew inscription in his Christ Seated on His Tomb and also because of the physical types in many of his paintings.

Bermejo worked in Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia and may have traveled to Flanders, France, and Italy since these countries are a trinity of influences discernible in his art. However, pervading his works is a character all his own: a poetic blend of melancholy, serenity, and grandeur.

Bermejo's first documented work is the altarpiece he executed for the church of S. Domingo de Silos in Daroca (1474-1477). The central panel, St. Dominic of Silos (now in the Prado Museum), combines Spanish realism and Flemish miniaturist detail. To the naturalism of the saint's physiognomy is added an expression of enigmatic introspection. The impressive monumentality of the figure subordinates the array of incredibly lavish and refined detail.

St. Engracia (ca. 1480) is stylistically distinguishable from St. Dominic of Silos. Although both saints are enthroned and fail to occupy their thrones convincingly, the form of St. Engracia, unlike the corporally weighted figure of St. Dominic, responds to the ascending linear scheme of a slender, reversed S curve. Paradoxically, her weightless form is enveloped in heavy, voluminous garments through which she seems to rise like a visual metaphor of the transcendence of the soul. Her face is impersonal, lovely, and remote. Her throne is simplified, lacking Flemish minutiae of ornament.

Although Bermejo's early art was strongly influenced by the Flemish in its drapery rhythms, luxuriant ornateness, and minute details, in his portraits of actual persons the facial chiaroscuro (light and dark values) is softly graded and, combined with the depth of feeling in the expressions, lends an emotional profundity that is distinctly Spanish. An example of this combination of attributes is the donor in St. Michael (ca. 1472).

Bermejo signed the Pietà with St. Jerome and the Canon Lluis Desplà (1490) "Opus Bartholomei Vermeio Cordubensis" (Work of Bartolomé Bermejo, Cordovan). The style of this work argues strongly that he was conversant with the art of Giovanni Bellini and of the Venetian school in general. The scene is pervaded by a palpable atmosphere that softens all it envelops in an Italianate idealism. The foreground, middle ground, and background are interlocked in a tremendous and unified recession in space. Other works by Bermejo are St. Catalina (ca. 1478), with a Flemish landscape and city scene; the Virgin and Child with Donor (ca. 1485), with a Bellinesque background; and St. Veronica (1498).

It is believed that Bermejo died about 1500. He had two followers, Martin Bernat and Miguel Jiménez, and his art influenced a number of artists in Valencia and Aragon.

Further Reading

An informative source on Bermejo in English is Chandler R. Post, A History of Spanish Painting (14 vols., 1930-1966). The best sources are in Spanish.

Additional Sources

Young, Eric, Bartolome Bermejo: the great Hispano-Flemish master, London: Elek, 1975. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bartolomé Bermejo." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bartolomé Bermejo." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bartolome-bermejo

"Bartolomé Bermejo." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bartolome-bermejo

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.