The Nativity with Angels Playing Music
Oil on panel 70.5x56.5cm
Nicolás Borrás was a Valencian priest and painter and who trained under the older Valencian artist Vincente Maçip. He was only 20 when his master died but his works continued to be influenced by Maçip’s style throughout his career. He was deeply religious and whilst active as a priest in the Monastery of Saint Jerome, Gandía he painted the high altar of the church and twelve other altarpieces for the monastery. In 1575 he joined the monastic community and continued to paint both within the monastery and for patrons outside the cloisters in and around Valencia.
The painting may be identifiable with a work of the same subject described by the Valencian biographer Marcos Antonio de Orellana as in the Hieronymite Monastery of Cotalba in Gandía: “Es asunto del in- sinuado Retablo, que está en el Oratorio de la Granja, es Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles, poco menor del natural rodeada de muchos ángeles con diversos instrumentos, dándole música, con su maestro de capilla guiando el compás, todo bien historiado.”1
The present composition by Borrás was repeated at a later date by Cristobal Llorens, albeit with some changes, in the upper register of the altarpiece of the Church of the Assumption in Alacuás.2
1. See M.A. de Orellana, Biografiá Pictórica, ed. X. de Salas, Valencia 1967, p. 87.
2. See F. Benito Doménech, Los Ribalta y la Pintura Valenciana de su tiempo, Valencia 1987, pp.54-61.
Possibly identifiable with a painting of the same subject listed by M.A. de Orellana as in the Hiero- nymite Monastery of Cotalba, Gandía;
In the collection of D. Melchor Ferrer y Lacosta (died 1846) and listed in his will under ‘Séptima, item 94, as Joan de Joanes, valued at 3.334 reales;
In the collection of D. Rafael Ferrer Estelles, Valencia, by 1950;
Sothebys Old Master and British paintings Day Sale 6 Dec 2012 London
Private collection, Switzerland
J. Soler, ‘Pintores de Ayer: Juan de Juanes, El Primer Gran Pintor Valenciano, in Feria Mucitorio Inter- nacional, Feriario Año XII, no. 14, May 1950, without pagination;
Nicolás Borrás Falcó (1530 – 1610), Palau Comtal – Cocentaina, 28 October – 30 April 2011, exh. cat., pp. 132 & 168, reproduced figure 36.