While the names Juan de Flandes and Juan Flamenco point to the painter's Flemish origins, his family name is unknown and his activity before arriving in Spain untraced. Little is known about his background and artistic training, yet his career is fairly well documented in the records of his Spanish patrons. He is first mentioned in 1496 in the accounts of Isabel the Catholic, Queen of Castile. In 1498 he is described as court painter, and the accounts indicate that he remained in her service until her death in 1504. He was in Salamanca in 1505, since he contracted to paint an altarpiece for the chapel of the University of Salamanca, a project that apparently occupied him for more than two years. By 1509 he had settled in Palencia, where he was commissioned by the bishop, Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, to paint eleven scenes from the life of Christ to enlarge an existing sculpted retable in the cathedral of Palencia. The date of the completion of these panels is not clear. Juan de Flandes' wife is mentioned as a widow on 13 December 1519. [Hand, John Oliver, and Martha Wolff. Early Netherlandish Painting. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1986: 123-124.]
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