Fundación Focus
<em>Velázquez Centre</em>

Velázquez Centre

Focus Foundation

Diego Velázquez

(Seville, 1599 – Madrid, 1660)
Artist biography


St Ildefonso Receiving the chasuble from the Virgin, 1622-1623

Oil on canvas

162 x 116 cm.

Seville City Council

St Ildefonso Receiving the chasuble from the Virgin, 1622-1623

This painting is a key piece of the puzzle in understanding the importance of the Santa Rufina and, above all, for appreciating Velázquez’s focus on personal and intimate portraits. It was painted when Montañés was sculpting the Santa Clara set, just at the time when Velázquez made his definite decision to go to the Royal Court. This explains the importance of the combination of painting, sculpture and portrait in this collection of 15 works.

It shows the moment of the Virgin’s descent from Heaven to give San Ildefonso a robe in reward for his efforts to champion her virginity. The portrait of the saint, who studied in Seville under the tutorship of San Isidoro, is a magnificent work that is an amazing likeness. The choir of female angels shown in the ‘opening of the heavens’, meanwhile, are of particular relevance because of their relationship to the model for Santa Rufina, both in their delicate and graceful necks and their hairstyle. This is the reason for these two works being displayed together, after coming together in time and by chance in Seville.

The circumstances under which this piece was commissioned are unknown, although it was probably painted for the Convent of San Antonio in Seville, where it was found by the Conde del Águila at the end of the 18th Century.

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