Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 77

ALONSO CANO / Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
ALONSO CANO / Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
which should not cover the stars; below
her feet is the moon which, although a
solid sphere, I take licence to make clear,
transparent over the landscape; at the
top, paler and more visible is the halfmoon with its tips pointing downwards.4
With regard to the latter detail, Pacheco follows the
opinion of the Sevillian Jesuit Luis del Alcázar, for whom
the two tips of the half-moon should point downwards so
that “the woman was not [standing] on the concave but
on the convex”, although he acknowledged that painters
generally depicted it pointing upwards. Pacheco continues:
God the Father should be depicted at the
top, or the Holy Spirit, or both […] The
attributes of the earth can be skilfully
described according to the country, and
those of the heavens, if required, with
clouds. Adorn it with seraphim and
full-length angels that hold some of the
attributes. The dragon, that common
enemy, whose head the Virgin destroyed
triumphing over original sin, we had left out.
And it should always be left out; the truth
is that I never willingly paint it and I would
omit it whenever possible, in order not to
spoil my painting with it. However, with
regard to everything said here, painters have
licence to make improvements.5
Fig. 1 / Francisco Pacheco,
Immaculate Conception
with Miguel del Cid, oil
on canvas, 159 x 108 cm,
signed “O.F.P. 1619”, Seville
Fig. 2 / Francisco Pacheco,
Immaculate Conception,
ca. 1610-1620, oil on
canvas, 142 x 99 cm,
Seville, Archbishop’s
retired to Santo Domingo el Real in
Toledo to found the Order of the
Concepción Purísima, which was
confirmed by Pope Julius II in 1511,
clothed in the sun, an oval sun of ochre
and white, which encircles the entire
image, sweetly blended into the sky; [she
should be] crowned with stars, twelve
stars arranged into a pale circle between
resplendent rays coming down to her
holy brow; the stars over some light areas
painted al seco in the purest white, which
should above all emphasize the rays of
light. No one painted these better than
Don Luis Pascual, a monk in the story of
Saint Bruno, for the great Charterhouse.
An imperial crown adorns her head,
It is not exactly known when Pacheco wrote these texts,
although it is thought to be around 1636-1638.6 Various
signed and dated works by him depicting Our Lady
of the Immaculate Conception are known, and others
are referred to in documents. Generally they adhere to
the instructions he gives in his book, but not always. It
is significant that the Virgin wears a blue mantle but a
red tunic in the the versions in Seville Cathedral (1619)
with Miguel del Cid (fig. 1); in a private collection that
includes a portrait of the supposed Mateo Vázquez
de Leca of 1621; in the Granados Collection; in San
Lorenzo in Seville of 1624; and in the University of
Navarre (generally dated around 1610 or 1612 but
which the present author considers to be from1622 or
1623). By contrast, in the version in the Archbishop’s
Palace in Seville (fig. 2), which has been tentatively
dated to between 1610 and 1620, and a similar version
from the convent of the Esclavas concepcionistas in
Seville (which has been in Madrid for some years), the
tunics are white.


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