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As of September 28, the Adorations by Maino on view in London, at the National Gallery

28 September, 2016

Exhibited in the UK for the first time, The Adoration of the Shepherds and The Adoration of the Kings will be on display in Room 1 of the National Gallery this autumn and through the Christmas period. The loan of these two remarkable paintings from the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid provides a rare opportunity to present the work of the Spanish painter Fray Juan Bautista Maíno (1581–1649), an artist of exceptional talent whose name remains largely unfamiliar outside Spain.

Maíno’s Adorations: Heaven on Earth will coincide with Beyond Caravaggio exhibition, opening on 12 October; the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the influence of Caravaggio on the art of his contemporaries and followers. Maíno’s two Adorations are highly significant in the context of Caravaggio’s extended influence across Europe.

By the age of 23, Maíno had travelled to Rome where he would have seen Caravaggio’s revolutionary paintings in the Contarelli Chapel in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Caravaggio’s work clearly left a deep impression on the young Maíno, so much so that he continued to paint in a naturalistic vein with chiaroscuro lighting even after his return to Spain.

The son of a Milanese cloth merchant, Maíno was born in Pastrana, a Spanish town known for its silk trade and production. The two Adorations reveal Maíno’s response to the stylistic tendencies prevalent in early 17th- century Rome, combining the naturalism of Caravaggio with the refined palette of Orazio Gentileschi, as well as the more classicising styles of Annibale Carracci, and Guido Reni.

The two paintings on display, measuring over three metres each in height, originally formed part of a retablo (altarpiece), painted in 1612–14 for the high altar of the Dominican church of San Pedro Mártir in Toledo. The retablo took Maíno three years to complete, despite the initial contract stipulating they were to be painted within eight months. It was while working on the altarpiece that Maíno took religious vows and joined the Dominican Order.

The prominent black and white dog in the foreground of The Adoration of the Shepherds alludes to the Dominicans; the dog being a frequent attribute of Saint Dominic and Dominicanus a play on the Latin words Domini canis (dog of the Lord).The Adoration of the Kings demonstrates Maíno’s first-hand knowledge of luxurious fabrics, such as the shimmering violet tunic and gold and silk brocade worn by the king kneeling in the foreground, which was probably gained from his father’s profession as a cloth merchant. The artist’s possible inclusion of a self-portrait, in the guise of a pilgrim on the far left of the composition pointing towards Christ, suggests a deep personal connection with this commission.

Top Images: Fray Juan Bautista Maíno . The Adoration of the Shepherds.  1612 – 1614 Oil on canvas 314.4 x 174.4 cm and The Adoration of the Kings. Oil on canvas 315 x 174.5 cm Both Images © Museo Nacional del Prado


28 September, 2016
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