Portrait of López de Saldaña on the right wing of the altarpiece
© J. Muñiz  CC-BY-NC-ND


The altarpiece presides over the chapel of Fernán López de Saldaña, a gentleman who held the posts of Lord of the Treasury, Lord-in-Waiting, Chancellor and Member of the Royal Council at the Castilian court of king Juan II. López de Saldaña was very close to High Constable Álvaro de Luna. Indeed, documents of the period refer to Saldaña's always affirming that he felt both "servant and beholden" to him in every respect.

The inscribed dedication running round the walls of the chapel dates it as having been built between the years 1430 and 1435, the same period when the altarpiece is thought to have been commissioned. This same inscription tells us that Saldaña's first wife, Elvira de Acebedo, who died in 1433, was also buried in the chapel. Since Saldaña appears by himself in one of the panel paintings on a wing dating from the same period, it is thought that he was already a widower when work started on the wings. This, of course, allows us to date the work much more accurately.  

The Saldaña family coat of arms with its tower and crossbow pointing upwards to the sky and surrounded by holly branches can be seen on the keystones of the vaulted ceiling. Their appearance there vouches for the Saldaña family being the owners of the chapel.