Altarpiece of the Ascension of Christ

Inventory no.
196177
Technique
Wood carving in high, mid- and bas relief; assembly
Support
Wood
Measurements
430x350x128 cm. [irregular]

Altarpiece placed in the university chapel between 1942 and 1943 to replace the one destroyed during the October Revolution of 1934.

This is a monochromatic piece with an application of a brown ochre colour, given with the intention of unifying the workmanship, as it is built with different types of wood of very differing quality.

It consists of a lower base that includes a central relief depicting the Holy Family in the stable, set in a scene of worship. The perspective of the crib is rudimentary and the carving, angular, which is seen even more clearly as the piece is not polychrome. The scene is flanked by two niches which currently do not hold sculptures.

Another higher, narrower section above the base repeats this same scheme, with a central relief and two niches which, in this case, hold two statues carved in the round. The latter represents the epiphany in a linear presentation of the characters.

On the other hand, the main scene is placed in the upper part, where the iconography of the ascension of Christ in high relief is included through an entirely pyramid composition. It answers to the traditional representation of this subject matter, with Jesus ascending to heaven leaning his feet on the end of a cloud, completely facing forward, while he is raising his hands to the faithful showing his palms. In the lower part, in a mixed scene, some are kneeling and others standing up, but all of them are impressed, which is noticeable in their facial expressions. The Virgin, the representation of the Mother Church, intensifies her gestures by raising her hands to her son.

The architecture of the altarpiece is characterized by its Renaissance-inspired execution, lavishly decorated, including components particular to architecture, such as elaborate balustrade columns with decorative plant-type elements and the coffering in the central section of the altarpiece. No surface remains bare; everything is covered with decorations throughout the architecture which recedes and projects outward, giving rise to a play of chiaroscuro effects.

Two of the niches currently hold two statues carved in the round representing Saint Francis and Saint Joseph and the Child.
The tabernacle was added later.

After the Civil War, the university senate made several unsuccessful attempts to buy altarpieces, both from institutions and individuals. In 1943, the chapel works were completed and the altarpiece installed, without there being any record as to its origin.

This piece is at present under research.

Bibliographical references
  • QUIJADA ESPINA, A., R. RODRÍGUEZ ÁLVAREZ Y S. VÁZQUEZ-CANÓNICO COSTALES (2004) Bienes Culturales de la Universidad de Oviedo. Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo.
Documentary sources
  • Minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Oviedo. Session: 13 Mayo 1940
  • Minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Oviedo. Session: 17 November 1941
  • Minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Oviedo. Session: 7 January 1942
  • Minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Oviedo. Session: March 1942
  • Minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Oviedo. Session: 13 April 1942
  • Minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Oviedo. Session: 22 September 1942
  • Provincial Historical Archives. Charity Fund of the Provincial Board. Religious Works. Box 19694, file 5
Location on the mapUbicación de la obra en las instalaciones de la Universidad

 

  • Universidad de Oviedo
  • Campus de Excelencia Internacional