Ferrer Bassa and his Workshop

Ferrer Bassa (c. 1285-c. 1348) set up his workshop in Barcelona in the street known as Carrer de la Cucurulla and by 1340 it was the most important workshop in the city. Ferrer Bassa and his collaborators received numerous commissions from the king, the court and the clergy to build altarpieces, illustrate books and paint murals.

Location of the works commissioned to Ferrer Bassa according to records from the time
Works commissioned to Ferrer Bassa according to records from the time
Works that art historians have attributed to Ferrer Bassa

The Contract
and its Conditions

The second abbess of the monastery, Francesca Saportella, commissioned the decoration of its chapel to the painter Ferrer Bassa en 1346. The conditions for the execution of work were laid down and formalised in a contract.
In this case there were two.

Contracte 1346
1346 Contract
1343 Contract
1343 Contract

The Contract and its Cancellation

"Let it be known to all that between the venerable Ferrer Peyró, canon of Barcelona and procurator and treasurer to the venerable and the religious abbess of the convent of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes on the one hand, and on the other, Ferrer Bassa, painter in the city of Barcelona, conditions were drawn up and expressed and accepted and signed by the said Ferrer Bassa, as follows.

It is agreed between the lady abbess of Pedralbes and Ferrer Bassa that the said Ferrer shall paint in fine colours, with oil, the Chapel of St. Michael, which belongs to the lady abbess, and here portray the Seven Joys of Mary, Mother of Jesus, amply and with all the figures that are necessary.

He will also portray Seven Stories of the Passion of Jesus Christ. The first, when Jesus was arrested; the second, when he was judged before Pilate, veiled, scourged and taunted; the third, when he was nailed to the cross; the fourth, when he died on the cross, with the two thieves, Mary and the other Marys, John, and the centurion with the other Jews; the fifth, when he was brought down from the cross; the sixth, when he was laid in the Monument; the seventh, the lamentation with Mary and John.

St. Michael, St. John the Baptist, St. James, St. Francis, St. Mary(sic) Clare, St. Eulalia, St. Catherine and the deacon St. Antoninus of Pamiers must also appear. Also a Majesty with two angels over the door, inside the chapel. And all the images must have diadems and embellishments in fine gold.

And beneath the aforesaid stories and images, there will be curtains by way of drapery on the walls.

And the abbess shall pay Ferrer Bassa two hundred and fifty sous for the said work, his food and that of those who help the painter in the said work; and out of the two hundred and fifty sous, the said abbess shall pay the said Ferrer Bassa one hundred sous in advance and the remaining one hundred and fifty sous when the work is finished.

This contract was signed by the said Ferrer Bassa, who agreed and promised to begin this work in the first week after the following feast day of Christ's resurrection and continue it from then on and get it done, finished and completed as specified by these conditions, Ferrer Bassa recognising that he has received the said 100 sous. And it was promised, etcetera, by lady abbess and Ferrer Peyró, etcetera to hold their property as a surety to cover the remaining 150 sous to be paid, and issue a receipt or proof of payment for the hundred sous received and hereby recognised, expressed and included in this contract. Which was put on record on the eighth of March one thousand three hundred and forty-six, and witnessed by Guillem Rovira, Francesc d'Orta and Berenguer de Rupe, notary."

"On Wednesday, 22 November of the year of Our Lord 1346, the present cancellation document was drawn up, upon the request of the aforementioned Ferrer Peyró, cannon of Barcelona, and the aforementioned abbess and Ferrer Bassa, with Pere Bramona, priest, and Francesc Rovira, notary, as witnesses."

AHMP. Manual notarial de Guillem Turell (1342-1348), fol. 70 v.

The express desire of the abbess was that the work should be painted "in good colours with oil". This indicates her wish to produce a significant work, since for a hundred years oil had been the technique used in murals commissioned by illustrious sponsors. The work, however, speaks for itself: a mixed technique that combined several procedures was used.

in good colours with oil