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Cajés, Eugenio
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Cajés, Eugenio

Madrid, 1574 - Madrid (Spain), 1634

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Ca. 1610. Oil on canvas.
Room 007A

Eugenio was the son of Tuscan painter Patricio Cajés, who came to Spain to work for Philip II at the monastery of El Escorial. His mother, Casilda de la Fuente, was Spanish. He began studying painting with his father and later moved to Rome (1595-1599), where he discovered two new trends in painting that would largely define the course of art in the 17th century: Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro and Lombard classicism. He was the king’s painter for more than twenty years, but the greater part of his oeuvre consists of delicately styled religious works with soft lines, contrasted lighting and faces with smooth, self-absorbed features. Nativity is a notable example of this approach and both its format and its compositional character suggest it was intended as the top of an altar or altarpiece, although we cannot rule out the possibility that it may have been intended to stand alone as a work for private worship. Here, Cajés drew on models he had used in other versions of the Holy Family with angels, including the Museo del Prado’s The Virgin with the Christ Child and Angels (P03120).

The composition centers around the intimate image of the sleeping Christ Child swaddled by an adolescent Mary under the protection of Saint Joseph, a young man who appears to be praying. The work recalls nocturnal scenes bathed in contrasting light with a morbid pictorial treatment reminiscent of Correggio, but it is also tied to the production of Genoese artist Luca Cambiaso, a fundamental painter at El Escorial and one of Cajés’s first referents. The scene’s intimate mood and refined execution make this a fine addition to the small group of works by Eugenio Cajés at the Museo del Prado.

Technical data

Inventory number
Cajés, Eugenio
Ca. 1610
Height: 70 cm; Width: 80.2 cm
Bequest of Plácido Arango Arias, 2015.

Bibliography +

Pérez Sánchez, A. E., Eugenio Cajés. Addenda et corrigenda, Archivo español de arte, Madrid, 1940, pp. 1-10, n. 265.

Gutiérrez de Calderón, E.; Urbina, J. A. en Calvo Serraller, F., El Gusto Español. Antiguos Maestros, Caylus Anticuario, Madrid, 1992, pp. 46-49.

Schroth, Sarah, El Greco to Velazquez: art during the reign of Philip III, MFA Publications, Boston, 2008, pp. 219, 225.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Plácido Arango Arias. Donación de 25 obras maestras de su colección de arte antiguo al Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. n. 6.

Ruiz, L, 'Eugenio Cajés. La Natividad' En:, Donación de Plácido Arango Arias al Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado,, Madrid, 2016, pp. 32-33 n.7.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Memoria de actividades 2015, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. 37-39.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2906.

Inscriptions +

Eugenius Caxesi Fat
Signed. Front, lower area

Location +

Room 007A (On Display)

Update date: 01-02-2022 | Registry created on 24-08-2015

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