Diego Velasquez (Spanish painter, 1599-1660)
The characters of the holy story appear over at nightfall. They look like portraits of the painter's family, and Velasquez can be identified as Casper, the elderly Melchor as his father-in-law, Francisco Pacheco, and the Virgin as his wife, while the Christ Child looks like the painter's new-born daughter, Francisca. Velasquez had been a painting teacher for two years and had been married to Juana Pacheco for one when he made this work from his period in Seville. His interest in chiaroscuro, the tactile quality and the detailed depiction of objects and textures give this religious scene a close and immediate character in keeping with the principles of the Counterreformation. This work may have been made for the Jesuite novitiate of San Luis in Seville. The thorn bush at the upper left may be a reference to a relic owned by the holy King of France. The painting is dated on the stone under the Virgin's feet.
Museo del Prado (Madrid, Madrid, Spain) P01166
oil on canvas
203 x 125 cm (overall)
© Dr. Ronald V. Wiedenhoeft
Scholar's Resource, Inc.
Dr. Ronald V. Wiedenhoeft