Nuno Gonçalves

Nuno Gonçalves (c. 1425 – c. 1491, fl. 1450–71)[1][2] was a Portuguese artist whose work initiated the Portuguese Renaissance in painting.[3] He was court painter for Afonso V of Portugal from 1450 to 1471, and in 1471 he was appointed the official painter for the city of Lisbon.[4] His surviving masterpiece is the polyptych known as the Saint Vincent Panels.[5]

Nuno Gonçalves
Nuno Gonçalves - Padrão dos Descobrimentos.png
Effigy of Nuno Gonçalves in the Monument of the Discoveries, in Lisbon, Portugal
Known forRenaissance art
Notable workSaint Vincent Panels
MovementPortuguese Renaissance
Patron(s)Afonso V of Portugal


The details of his life are almost completely unknown. As a painter, Nuno Gonçalves was active between 1450 and 1472. In 1450 he was appointed court painter by King Afonso V and in recognition of his contributions, he was knighted by Afonso in 1470. In 1471, Gonçalves was appointed the official painter for Lisbon. There is no information regarding his birth, family, or education.[6]

Although his history is obscure now, Gonçalves was recognized in his time as an important and talented artist. Francisco de Holanda, a 16th-century artist and art historian, called Gonçalves one of the foremost painters of his era.[7] Today, the only work that can be assigned to him with any confidence is the polyptych, Saint Vincent Panels, originally presented to the Cathedral of Lisbon by Afonso V to commemorate his victories in Morocco. A few other works have been tentatively attributed to Gonçalves based on similarities of style; and others, such as the Flagellation of Christ have been referred to historically but are now lost. In addition to painting, he probably drew the scenes for the Pastrana Tapestries.[8][9]

There is no record of where Gonçalves trained as a painter but art historians offer various possible influences on his work. His style represents a break from earlier Portuguese art. He has been compared to early Florentine fresco painters or possibly the Dutch artist Jan van Eyck who worked in Portugal around 1428.[10]

He is depicted, among several other historic figures, on the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument to the Portuguese Age of Discovery in Belém, Lisbon.

Saint Vincent Panels, Lisbon

Saint Vincent PanelsEdit

The only reference that art historians can use to support his authorship of the Saint Vincent Panels is by Francisco de Holanda, in the 16th century.[11] It mentions a great work of art made by him that is inferred to be the Panels. It is also speculated that the father of Hugo van der Goes collaborated in the painting of the panel but there is no concrete proof. Since their discovery in late 19th century there has been great dispute over the identity of the painter and the characters shown in the Panels. Even the claim that Prince Henry the Navigator appears in the third panel is still under debate. Nevertheless, the "Saint Vincent Panels" is seen as the highest peak of Portuguese antique art.[citation needed]

List of WorksEdit

These paintings are the most usually attributed to the painter:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Rebelo 2003
  2. ^ Gowing 2005
  3. ^ Benezit Dictionary of Artists 2011
  4. ^ Gowing 2005
  5. ^ Rebelo 2003
  6. ^ Rebelo 2003
  7. ^ Gowing 2005
  8. ^ Rebelo 2003
  9. ^ Markl 2003
  10. ^ Gowing 2005
  11. ^ Francisco de Holanda, Da pintura antiga (Lisbon, 1548).



  • Gowing, Lawrence, ed. (2005). "Gonçalves, Nuño". Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists, v.2. New York: Facts on File. pp. 269–270. ISBN 0816058032.
  • Markl, Dagoberto L. (2003). "Gonçalves, Nuno". Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press.
  • Rebelo, Luis (2003). "Gonçalves, Nuño". In Gerli, E. Michael (ed.). Medieval Iberia : an encyclopedia. New York: Routledge. pp. 770–771. ISBN 0-415-93918-6.
  • "Gonçalves, Nuño". Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Oxford University Press. 2011.


  • Figueiredo, José de, "O Pintor Nuno Gonçalves", Lisbon, J. Figueiredo, 1910, volume 1.
  • Pereira, Paulo, "História da Arte Portuguesa", Lisbon, Editorial Estampa / Círculo de Leitores, 1996, volume 1.

External linksEdit