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The Royal Parish of Saint Mary Magdalene of Sevilla (Spain) is now home to a painting by the Spanish master Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the court of Philip IV, considered by many the greatest painter of the Spanish Golden Age. The painting was donated to the parish in 2020 by Soledad de Rojas, a parishioner, shortly before she passed away. The painting was hanging, unattributed, above Soledad’s bed, all her life. The parish priest told RTVE that De Rojas stressed that the painting was there the day she came into this world, and wanted it to be there at her death.
As the parish was planning to restore the image, experts first attributed the image to Francisco Pacheco. Pacheco was not only Velázquez’s mentor and father-in-law, he was also the author of a widely spread treatise, the Arte de la Pintura, a textbook containing detailed and minute instructions for painters who wanted to work on religious iconography. He codified all of the great motifs of baroque religious painting, including how to paint the Holy Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, and, of course, Christ himself, mostly based in Scripture but also in the Tradition and the Magisterium. The Spanish Inquisition used this treatise to oversee artistic production in the domains of the Spanish Empire.
But, as the restoration went by, specialists have realized it is the work of Velázquez himself.
On a local TV show, the coordinator of the restoration project explained that, after studying the material, the pictorial components, the technique, and the formal and stylistic resources of the painting (a Virgin holding the Child in her arms), they can affirm it is indeed the work of the great Sevillian master. Lawyers have informed the parish that they need to inform the National Office of Patrimony (Patrimonio Nacional) that they are now in possession of this piece.