This summer, the National Gallery, as part of its Spanish season, will show a select number of works by Bartolomé Bermejo (about 1440–about 1501), one of Spain’s most innovative and accomplished painters active in the second half of the 15th century.
National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, said:
“The National Gallery’s ‘Saint Michael Triumphant’ is a supreme work of European 15th-century painting. The exhibition introduces the public to Bermejo, a great Spanish Renaissance master with exceptional loans never seen before in Britain.
Bartolomé de Cárdenas was more commonly known as ‘Bermejo’ – meaning ‘reddish’ in Spanish – probably referring to a distinctive physical feature such as red hair or a ruddy complexion. He was born in Cordoba but was principally active in the Crown of Aragon, working in Tous, Valencia, Daroca, Zaragoza, and Barcelona. He led an itinerant life, partnering with local artists to access painters’ guilds and obtain religious commissions in the cities he visited. Bermejo’s personal circumstances remain enigmatic, and very little is known about his life and early training but it seems likely that he was a converso (a Jew converted to Christianity) and that his nomadic career might be partially explained by the establishment of the Inquisition and persecution of Jews by the religious authorities.