Christie's auctions an altarpiece attributed erroneously to the Catalan artist Gabriel Guàrdia

Experts point to Joan Gascó instead of Guàrdia as the author of the artwork, valued at $ 100,000

13.04.2016 | 20:33
The altarpiece attributed erroneously to Gabriel Guàrdia

Big companies are not infallible. And the prestigious auction house Christie's, the oldest and most important in the world, is no exception. This Thursday at 2 pm, local time, at its headquarters in Rockefeller Plaza, in New York, Christie's will auction a batch comprising 150 artworks. One of the artworks is a panel dated from the 16th century property of a private collection in Canada and it's attributed innacurely to the catalan painter Gabriel Guàrdia. The estimated cost is $100,000 (88,000 euros).

Not only is incorrect the attribution of the panel to Guàrdia. The description of the piece speaks about the similarities of this panel with another piece of Guàrdia's work, that it has been revealed not to be a Guàrdia's work, neither. The text refers to the altar of the Holy Trinity which is at the Church of Santa Maria de La Seu, located at Manresa, a city near Barcelona. The monk of the Montserrat Abbey Francesc Xavier Altea, who died in 2014, discovered in 2008 that the real author was Antoni Marquès, also Catalan.

In the profile of the piece, Christie's includes an annex that goes a bit unnoticed and that points into the right direction. It says that Dr. Santiago Alcolea has informed the auction house that this painting is from Joan Gascó. Reached by phone by Regió7, the local daily paper, Alcolea, the director of the Institute Foundation of Hispanic Art Amatller, explains that the discovery was made in the nineties "looking to Gascó other works" and comparing them with the piece attributed to Guàrdia. He also provides information not included by Christie's about the stay on the piece in the gallery Fischer of Zurich, where it would be auctioned between 23rd and 26th August of 1939. In 1983 and 1997, the piece was auctioned again.

Despite considering the note of Alcolea, the famous auction house continues to attribute the artwork to Guàrdia and not to Joan Gascó. Consulted by this newspaper on this assignment, Rafael Cornudella, Professor of Art History at UAB, confirmed he agrees with the assessment of Alcolea. He explains that "the antique dealers often use the opinion of the art historian Chandler R. Post, the author of "A History of Spanish Painting" and regrets that his work is not contrasted with newer historiographers discoveries.

Cornudella adds that "another proof of the lack of specific knowledge of Catalan painting is the fact that Christie's editor sheet ignores the contribution that a few years ago did Francis Xavier Altés documenting the altarpiece of Manresa as an Antoni Marquès' work". The expert explains that the first contract between the owners of the artwork and Guàrdia in 1501 didn't work and then they contacted to Antoni Marquès in 1506, who signed the paint.

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