- Museum number
Saint Ildephonsus adoring the Virgin and Christ Child and the miraculous chasuble carried by three putti
Pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk, squared for transfer
- Production date
- 1643-1652 (c)
Height: 183 millimetres
Width: 311 millimetres (semicircle)
- Curator's comments
- Modified text from McDonald 2013.
Cano made this drawing in Madrid after he moved from Seville in 1638. It is a fine example of his mature style with the figures carefully drawn in pen and ink and then filled with wash, a manner of drawing reflecting his early training with Francisco Pacheco. The dense network of guidelines in chalk were drawn on the sheet first and were intended to plan the perspective of the composition. The painting was meant to be viewed in a niche with an arched top. The line running vertically from top to bottom is incised with a stylus that Cano often used to guide his compositions (Z. Véliz, ‘Alonso Cano’s drawings for the Life of Saint Dominic in Santa Cruz la Real, Granada’, Master Drawings, XLV, 2007, pp. 325–44). The figures were then arranged according to a precise predetermined perspective. Along the bottom are a number of regular marks indicating scale corresponding to the size of the intended work and to guide in the transfer of its design.
Although the drawing was made for a painting, nothing has survived. Its subject might however provide a clue to the original commission. St Ildephonsus was a greatly venerated seventh-century bishop of Toledo known for his devotion to the Virgin. Zahira Véliz has suggested that the drawing might be linked to Cano’s unsuccessful bid to be appointed master of Toledo cathedral in 1643 (Véliz 2011, p.300). If this was the case, Cano might have hoped that his solution to the complex perspective and interpretation of the subject would impress his prospective employers.
Based on an analysis of the handwritten inscription the sheet might once have belonged to the Madrid painter and collector Francisco de Solís (L.A. Banner, ‘Francisco de Solís: A seventeenth-century artist-collector’, Master Drawings, XLV, 2007, pp. 359–66). The attribution to Cano at the bottom of the sheet appears to have been written in his hand.
J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London 1869 (re-published 1876), no. 428; Exhib.cat., Madrid, Museo del Prado, 'Alonso Cano: dibujos', 2001, no.51; Z. Véliz, 'Alonso Cano (1601–1667). Catálogo razonado', Santander 2011, no.52; M. P. McDonald, 'Renaissance to Goya: Prints and drawings from Spain', exh.cat., British Museum, London 2012, pp.139-40; M. P. McDonald, 'El trazo español en el British Museum: Dibujos del Renacimiento a Goya', exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid 2013, cat.no.28.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1879 May-Jun, Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, 'Des Dessins de Maîtres Anciens', no. 233
1976 BM, Spanish Drawings, (no cat)
2001 April-June, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 'Alonso Cano'
2012/13 Sept-Jan, London, British Museum, ‘Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain’
2013 March-June, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, ‘El trazo español en el British Museum …’
2013, Aug-Nov, Sydney, AGNSW, 'Renaissance to Goya'
2013-4, Dec-Mar, Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum of Modern Art, 'Renaissance to Goya'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number