Claudio Coello's Holy Family is a stark revelation of the interplay between power, religion and art in the time, culture and social and political history of the West. It is a stunning reproduction of faith and beauty, a visionary balance between the spiritual and the temporal, and a masterful religious painting demonstrating the influence of Rubens, Velázquez, Van Dyck, and also of a number of Italian painters of the late seventeenth century. Most famous for his various altarpieces, the most renowned of which is prominently housed at the Museo del Prado, Coello was perfectly at ease when creating large-scale compositions in which it was possible to reveal a rare sense of balance, a unique spatial consciousness, and a strong perception of motion. Notable also for his ability to render in startling detail the vivacity of his subjects, Coello is a much-overlooked contemporary of Velasquez who, like him, was also of Portuguese descent.
Holy Family fills the frame with vigour and a deep sense of strength and authority, commanding the viewer to great value their adherence to the Christian faith. Coello is one of the most memorable figures of the Spanish School in Madrid, emerging from the workshop of Francesco Rizzi, and schooled in the nascent flourishes of the Baroque style of painting. At the tender age of twenty-one, Coello secured his first high-profile commission for the high altar of the Benedictine church of St. Placido in Madrid. From that point on his own idiosyncratic style would be suffused with the Baroque techniques of rendering reproductions of Biblical scenes upon Altarpieces. Eloquently mixing the celestial with the earthly, Coello reflected the spiritual side of the Spanish nation under Charles II, from which emerged some of the most startling works in Western painting.
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