This and the following lot are cartoons for liturgical embroideries executed at the command of King Philip II for the monastery of San Lorenzo at the Escorial. Between the creation of the monastery in 1563 and the beginning of the 17th century a studio employing many artists was instituted to design and manufacture the many richly decorated embroideries needed for the vestments, liturgical hangings and other textiles. An inventory of 1605 lists more than 1,200 embroidered chasubles.
A large group of drawings, most of them still bound in two albums at the Escorial, document the work of the studio. The drawings are all in pen and brown ink, brown wash, on blue-green paper, with the outlines extensively pricked for transfer.
Little is known of the organization of the studio or the precise identity of the masters responsible for each design. The drawings that survive show evidence of several different hands, although two artists seem to have played a decisive role: Miguel Barroso (1538-1590) and Diego López de Escuriaz. The present drawings can be reasonably attributed to López de Escuriaz on stylistic grounds, by comparison with other embroidery designs by him at the Escorial and elsewhere (see, for example, D. Angulo and A. Pérez Sánchez, A Corpus of Spanish Drawings, I, London, 1975, pp. 48-51, nos. 182-201, pls. LIV, LV, LVI).