As a child, you were probably taught to count the rings of a tree trunk to find out how old it was. You probably did not know that there are people who spend their whole lives doing just that. And you were probobly unaware that this science has a name: dendrochronology.
Forests are an immense database that provide valuable information if we know how to ask. These forests have been there for hundreds of years, thousands, supporting climatological, biological and disrespectful hikers changes. And they remain there, impassive, jealously guarding the information of thousands of years.
When you teach a child to count the tree rings, perhaps you were told that the wood decomposes very slowly, especially when the tree is alive, allowing us to gather information from it for many years. Ecological, geomorphological or anthropological data are marked on the timber which fills our homes, our museums and our daily lives.
Art is a great ally in dendrochronology. Often the dance of artistic works date back years and may seem pointless. Although the traditional dating of The Hay Wain Hieronymus Bosch around 1500 or 1502, the latest dendrochronological tests on the wood of the work argue that it was not until 1516 when the Dutch painter dropped his brushstrokes.
When you hear this dance of figures five hundred years later, it is hard not to draw a wry smile to imagine a group of students in white coats worried sick about those fourteen or sixteen years apart. But all is not so simple. Anyone who thinks so should ask the director of the Royal Chapel of Granada . This pictorial mausoleum jealously guards one of the most beautiful works of Juan de Flanders . The pictorial quality and thoroughness of the stroke of the painter are indisputable.
The Flamenco artist himself to be influenced by the spirit of a deep Castilla that took root in his sensitivity, assuming an evolution in its technical perfection and mastery of composition. The painter of Queen Isabella learned to take advantage of the best of two worlds: the Flemish Gothic painting of the fifteenth century and the Castilian landscape that caught it.
In the Royal Chapel of Granada the Deposition, a part of a famous triptych of Juan de Flanders, now fragmented and exhibited in various galleries around the world is exposed. With deposition that keeps so similar to the central part of the triptych of Miraflores of Rogier van der Weyden it is impossible not to mention a copy or at least a “strong inspiration.”
For years it was thought that the good work of Van der Weyden was subsequent to that of Juan de Flanders, and the Royal Chapel of Granada continued to defend this, yet the wood of both works has revealed the secret that had been silent for many long years: Juan de Flanders came after Rogier van der Weyden. Sorry , Juan de Flanders, trees have given away your secret.