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Father Cabanillas
Coello, Claudio
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Coello, Claudio

Madrid (Spain), 1642 - Madrid (Spain), 1693

Coello, Claudio See author's file

Father Cabanillas

1689 - 1693. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

This likeness of the Franciscan clergyman is a significant example of elongated bust portraits that are quiet customary in the Western figurative tradition. Such works allow a closer approach to the model’s essential features, reducing but not eliminating accessory elements such as his clothing and a summary depiction of the surrounding space. Rather than overly limiting information on the protagonist’s social condition, this economy of means favors the viewer’s concentration on his face. His features and expression invite us to recognize his physiognomy, but also a part of his personality. Claudio Coello (1642-1693) thus captures Cabanillas’s attentive yet serene expression. His only attribute is the rough habit that marks him as a member of the Franciscan Order. Its coarse, dark-brown fabric isolates his face, which is largely surrounded by the hood. It also hides his hands, further accentuating his friar-like appearance. There are no distracting elements here; no sense of movement, and not even a landscape in the background. Thus, this portrait is practically an intimate invitation to draw closer to the apparently humble friar, whose frank gaze mirrors his straightforward habit to form a special mixture of goodness and vigor. The work is singular, not only for its effectiveness, but also because of the context in which it was created. It comes from the Spanish Royal Collections, although no link between this friar and the royal family has yet been discovered. The painting belonged to Philip V’s second wife, Elizabeth of Farnesio, and was inventoried among her paintings at the La Granja de San Ildefonso Palace in 1746, where it is already attributed to Coello. It had arrived there as part of the legacy of Charles II’s widow, Maria Anna of Neuburg, who was also Elizabeth’s aunt. Following the death of Spain’s last Habsburg monarch, Maria Anna was exiled—first to Toledo, and later to Bayonne. Among the payments carried out by her small French court is a recently discovered assignment of alms from 1718 to Father Cavanillas lay brother of Saint Giles, who is undoubtedly the figure portrayed by Coello. The Convent of San Gil in Madrid stood close to the Alcázar Palace, and in fact, part of the latter´s original foundations had to be demolished when it was expanded in the 16th century. It therefore enjoyed special protection from the neighboring monarchs and it is hardly strange that Queen Maria Anna may have maintained contact with one of its friars, whom she undoubtedly met during her stay in Madrid between 1689 and 1701. Cabanillas was thus a figure of some spiritual importance to the queen, and she took the likeness of him painted by Charles II’s chamber painter with her when she went into exile. Coello had worked in the chapel of San Pedro de Alcántara at the monastery of San Gil, and was thus closely associated with this community. His painting is thus not so much a courtly portrait as a work from the queen’s private circle with religious connotations. That explains its closeness and intimacy, free of any official rhetoric. If, as it seems, she herself commissioned this work, it would have been painted later than traditionally thought, sometime between Maria Anna´s arrival in Madrid and the artist’s death.

Technical data

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Inventory number
Coello, Claudio
Father Cabanillas
1689 - 1693
Height: 76 cm; Width: 62 cm
Royal Collection (collection of Mariana de Neoburgo; La Granja de San Ildefonso Palace, Segovia, 1741; Elizabeth of Farnese Collection, La Granja de San Ildefonso Palace, "retrete cuarto que sale a la pieza donde estuvo la escalera de mármol", 1746, nº 810; La Granja, "dormitorio de sus altezas", 1766, nº 810; Aranjuez Palace, Madrid, "pieza del oratorio y otras sueltas", 1794, nº 810; Royal Palace, Madrid, 1814-1818, nº 810).

Bibliography +

Palacio del Real Sitio de San Ildefonso. La Granja., Inventario General Pinturas, Muebles y otras alhajas de la Reina Nuestra Señora que tiene en el Palacio del Real Sitio de San Ildefonso, Madrid, 1746, pp. 70.

Gaya Nuño, Juan Antonio, Claudio Coello, Instituto Diego Velázquez, del Consejo Superior de, Madrid, 1957, pp. lám.14.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

La peinture espagnole du siècle d'or: de Greco a Velazquez, Association Française d'Action Artistique, Paris, 1976.

The Golden Age of Spanish Painting, Royal Academy of Arts, Londres, 1976, pp. nº73.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Panorama de la pintura española desde los Reyes Católicos a, Servicio de Publicaciones del Instituto de Coopera, Madrid, 1980, pp. 92.

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Murillo, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1981, pp. 564.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 154.

Sullivan, Edward J., Baroque painting in Madrid: the contribution of Claudio Coel, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1986, pp. 146.

Fernandez Miranda y Lozana, Fernando, Inventarios Reales Carlos III 1789-1790, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1988.

Sullivan, Edward J., Claudio Coello y la pintura barroca madrileña, Nerea, Madrid, 1989, pp. 197.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Luci del secolo d'oro spagnolo, Unione LatinaPinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Bolonia, 1998, pp. 239.

Aterido Fernández, Ángel; Martínez Cuesta, Juan; Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio. Inventarios Reales, II, Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2004, pp. 386.

Aterido Fernández, Ángel, El padre Cabanillas (h. 1689-1693). En: Ruiz Gómez, L.: El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2006, pp. 122, n. 36.

García Cueto, David, Claudio Coello: pintor, 1642-1693, Arco Libros - La Muralla, Madrid, 2016, pp. 95 f.44.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 322.
Murillo. / 322. Retrato del p. Cabanillas, religioso descalzo. (busto). / Alto 2 pies, 8 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 2 pies, 2 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 322.

Inv. Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1746. Núm. 810.
Otra Pintura de mano de Claudio Cuello, que reptª el Pe Cavanillas, Religioso descalzo de Ntrô Pe Sn Francº Tiene una vara menos cinco dedos de alto; dos pies, y tres de ancho. Marco dorado Tallado antiguo...1

Inv. Testamentaría Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1766. Núm. 810.
Ôtro de tres pies de alto por dos, y medio de ancho, marco angosto gravado, representa el retrato de un Lego descalzo, vale trescientos rrs

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Aranjuez, 1794. Núm. 810.
Pieza del Oratorio y otras sueltas [...] {280} 810 / Dos pies y tres quartos de alto, y dos pies y quarto de ancho: retrato del P. Cabanillas, Religioso Descalzo. Claudio Coello ... 1000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 810.
Pieza Amarilla [...] {21637} 810 / Vara y cuarta de alto vara de ancho, retrato de uun Padre Gilito = escuela de Velazquez

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 897.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 992.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 992.

Inscriptions +

Fleur-de-lis, used as a collection’s mark belonging to Elisabeth Farnese. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
12.06.2007 - 02.09.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
05.03.2007 - 20.05.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
12.12.2006 - 18.02.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
19.09.2006 - 26.11.2006

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
22.06.2006 - 21.08.2006

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
Santiago de Compostela
09.03.2006 - 14.05.2006

El siglo de oro de la pintura española
15.01.1998 - 12.04.1998

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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