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Formerly in the Collection of the late COLONEL WILLIAM STIRLING OF KEIR
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Painted for one of the side altars in the presbytery of the Church of the Convent of Montesión, Seville
Removed, along with the other paintings in the church, by French troops in 1810 and deposited in the Sevillian Alcázar (where given the
inventory no.19) Purchased in Spain by Sir John McPherson Brackenbury, for twenty years British Consul for the Province of Andalucia; (+) Christie's,
26 May 1848, lot 22 'Juan del Castillo - San Domingo in Soriano - one of the celebrated pictures from the Convent of Monte Sion, Seville ...
This picture is mentioned in the work of Cean Bermudez, vol.i., p.288' (#9 to Russell) ['J M Bracken .... ', the sale date and lot number are indistinctly written in chalk on the stretcher]
Presumably purchased subsequently by William Stirling, later Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, 9th. Bt. (1818-1878), and thence by descent
at Keir
A. Ponz, Viaje de España, 1772-1794, ed.1947, p.786
J. A. Ceán Bermúdez, Diccionario Histórico de los mas Ilustres Profesores de las Bellas Artes en España, 1800, I, p.288
F. González de León, Noticia artística, histórica y curiosa de todos los edificios públicos, sagrados y profanos de esta muy noble, muy leal, muy heróica e invicta ciudad de Sevilla, 1844, ed.1973, p.973
M. Gómez Imaz, Inventario de los Cuadros sustraídos por el Gobierno Intruso en Sevilla (Año 1810), 1896, ed.1917, p.122
A. Muro Orejón, Pintores y Doradores, Documentos para la Historia del Arte en Andalucía, VIII, 1935, pp.79-81
E. Valdivieso and J. M. Serrera, Historia de la Pintura Española: Escuela Sevillana del Primer Tercio del Siglo XVII, 1985, p.356, no.130, and p.367, under no.153
J. M. Serrera in the Catalogue of the Exhibition, Zurbarán, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 3 May-30 July 1988, p.114

Lot Essay

In 1530 Fra Lorenzo, a Dominican monk of Soriano in southern Italy, had a vision in which the Madonna, accompanied by the Magdalen and Saint Catherine of Siena, presented him with a portrait of Saint Dominic; he awoke to discover the portrait in his cell and it was subsequently found to have miraculous properties. The subject appears frequently in Spanish painting in the seventeenth century, being depicted by, among others, Zurbarán, Antonio de Pereda, Juan Bautista Maino (at least three times), Jerónimo Jacinto de Espinosa, and on at least four occasions by Juan del Castillo.

Juan del Castillo's life and work have recently been studied by Valdivieso and Serrera, op. cit., pp.303-369 and pls.210-262. He is documented in Seville regularly from 1611 until 1639, after which there is no further record of him but for a document of 1650 mentioning him again in Seville, and he may have spent most of his later years working in Granada and Cadiz, as is stated by the great historian Palomino (A. Palomino de Castro y Velasco, El Museo Pictórico y Escala Optica, III, El Parnaso español pintoresco laureado, 1724; translated by N. Ayala Mallory as Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors, 1987, p.106; for Palomino see also his portrait by Simó in this exhibition). Palomino says of Juan del Castillo 'He executed some excellent works in that city [Seville], which brought him such great fame that his house was the most frequented school among those who wanted to give proficiency in the art of painting. He was thus the teacher of the Prebendary Alonso Cano, of Bartolomé Murillo, and of Pedro de Moya.' Although the reference to Cano as a pupil is mistaken, he was certainly a close friend and frequent collaborator. Even more significant for the development of painting in Seville was Juan del Castillo's relationship with Murillo, whom Palomino also describes as his nephew (idem, p.280); it is generally accepted (despite a lack of documentary evidence) that Murillo served an apprenticeship with Juan del Castillo, probably for the full term of six years, since his earliest known works display a close dependence on the older painter's style (see, for instance, E. Valdivieso in the catalogue of the exhibition, Murillo, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1982, and Royal Academy, London, 1983, pp.154-5, nos.1 and 2, illustrated in colour pp.73-4).

Juan del Castillo's associations with Cano and Murillo both fell within the 1630s, the decade of the artist's greatest success, in the middle years of which he was working on what is generally regarded as his masterpiece, the retable of the Colegio de Santa María de Monte Sión in Seville, seven canvasses from which have survived and are now in the Museo de Bellas Artes there (Valdivieso and Serrera, op. cit., pp.308 and 336-341, and pls.221-233). The present picture was executed for the same church, where it is recorded by Ponz, Céan Bermúdez and González de Léon. It is one of the more important works by the artist listed as missing in the catalogue raisonné of Valdivieso and Serrera, who, unaware that it had passed through the Brackenbury collection and sale, describe it as untraced since 1810. They presume from documents recording the construction of the altar in 1617-18 that the picture must have been executed at the same date. However, the frame, which is independent, would appear to be the original and stylistically the painting must date from the mid-1630s, the same period as all the other pictures by Juan del Castillo in the same church. It is intimately related in composition to the artist's painting of the same subject in the Church of the Madre de Dios in Seville, which is dated by Valdivieso and Serrera to circa 1635 (idem, pp.308 and 355, no.129, and pl.257; exhibited Seville, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, La Epoca de Murillo, 1982, p.92, no.29, illustrated in colour), although the only parts which correspond at all precisely are the figure of the Madonna (in the Seville picture wearing an unpatterned dress) and the putto supporting her cloak. Both pictures contrast with the painter's earlier renditions of the subject in their suppression of any indication of an architectural setting and both reveal the influence of Zurbarán first discernible in Juan del Castillo's work circa 1626 when the younger artist was executing his painting of the same subject for the Church of La Magdalena in Seville (for which see Serrera, loc. cit).

Sir John Brackenbury, who brought the present picture to England, was, along with his fellow diplomat Sir William Eden, one of the earliest English collectors of Spanish pictures. Most of his collection, entirely formed in Spain and consisting largely of Spanish paintings, was sold (along with the present picture) in these Rooms in 1848. William Stirling purchased twelve lots directly at the sale, including a Zurbarán 'Marriage of Saint Catherine of Siena', a still-life then attributed to Murillo (sold from Keir at Sotheby's, 3 July 1963, lot 67) and two Goya 'caricatures'


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