The Master of Castelsardo
The Master of Castelsardo was a painter who lived between the 15th and 16th centuries, whose real identity is still uncertain and open to debate. He was the author of numerous works in Sardinia, Corsica, and Catalonia; we can presumed that he apprenticed in Barcelona, where a number of panel paintings attributed to him are conserved. Some scholars identify this painter as the Spanish artist Maiorca Martin Tornèr, while others believe he was Joacchino Cavaro, an artist from Cagliari.
Between the late 15th and early 16th century, the work of the Master of Castelsardo initiated a new chapter for art in Sardinia. At Castelsardo, the Master left one of his most important retablos, now disassembled, the central painting of which, the Madonna on the Throne with Child is situated on the altar of the Cathedral, while other components are exhibited in the Diocesan Museum .
The retablo dates to around 1492 and embodies a synthesis of different influences that characterises the work of the Master. His art expresses the search for a modelled representation of the figures, inserted in a Renaissance-style space which, however, retains Gothic-Flemish influences. Despite all the uncertainties regarding the Master, his personality is well defined, and the painting with the Madonna on the throne is considered to be his most important accomplishment.
With the Master of Castelsardo we see a quality leap in the architecture of the retablo, which is adapted to the new requirements, bringing a statuary aspect though the intricate gilded decorations of the frame are still present.
In addition to the works mentioned, the Master painted at least four other retablos: two, which are fragmentary, are conserved in the Museu d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona, the others in the church of Santa Lucia in Tallano, Corsica.