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Francisco Bayeu y Subías, Saint James being visited by the Virgin

Key facts
Full title Saint James being visited by the Virgin with a Statue of the Madonna de Pilar
Artist Francisco Bayeu y Subías
Artist dates 1734 - 1795
Date made 1760
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 53 × 84 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1985
Inventory number NG6501
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint James being visited by the Virgin
Francisco Bayeu y Subías

The Virgin Mary appears to the patron saint of Spain, Saint James the Greater, as he prays beside the Ebro River. He extends his arms ready to receive the statuette of the Virgin and Child and the column of jasper being carried by a swirling mass of putti (winged infants). The Virgin instructed Saint James to build an oratory to house the statuette on the spot where he had his vision. In the late seventeenth century it was held at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of El Pilar in Zaragoza.

Bayeu’s painting was inspired by Antonio González Velázquez’s fresco of 1753 in the dome over the central chapel of the Basilica, which is compositionally similar but different in style. The painting might seem like a sketch for a larger painting, but it is probably an independent work of art intended for private devotion. The reverse of the canvas is signed and dated, which would be unusual for a preparatory sketch.

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