Francisco Zurbarán, The Apostle Saint Peter appearing to Saint Peter Nolasco. Museo del Prado

Around 1630 Velázquez produced several religious works. They would be the last great paintings on this subject he executed and place him among the Spanish painters who succeeded in creating the most effective images for conveying devotional feeling. They are all easily readable, inspire reflection and meditation and point to an artist in full command of his talents, who made extraordinary use of his Italian experience, addressing each theme in an original manner. In Christ on the Cross he again exploits the unlimited possibilities of the nude, in Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Paul the Hermit he shows he was developing the interest in landscape he had shown earlier in Rome. In the The Temptation of Saint Thomas Aquinas he again proved his ability to convey emotions and establish a fluid relationship between the human figures. This work marked the use of a wider range of colours, which became increasingly broad over time, a feature that also characterises the Coronation of the Virgin.

One of the aspects that sets Velázquez apart from the rest of Spanish artists is the small number of religious works her produced. At the same time, it is precisely this field that gives us the best insight into what relates or separates him aesthetically from his colleagues of the same generation, with some of whom he was friends. Important works by Zurbarán, Gregorio Fernández and Alonso Cano depicting themes similar to those of Velázquez attest to the quality and the variety of the Spanish artistic production and situate his religious painting in a precise context.

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