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Saint Dominic in Soriano
Maíno, Fray Juan Bautista
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Maíno, Fray Juan Bautista

Pastrana, Guadalajara, 1581 - Madrid, 1649

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Saint Dominic in Soriano

Ca. 1629. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

While a large number of copies, variants and lost works by Maíno on the subject of the miracle of Saint Dominic in Soriano are known to exist or have existed, only three autograph works on this theme are now considered to have to survived, namely the two under discussion here (Museo del Prado, P5773 and State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Inv. GE32) and the one in the church of Santa Eulalia in Segovia. Most of the numerous paintings depicting the miracle of Soriano to be found in the Hispanic world derive from Maíno’s interpretation of this event. Various authors have suggested that there were earlier Andalusian paintings on this subject matter, but this hypothesis can neither be proved nor ruled out. Old documentary sources suggest that it was the Dominicans of the seminary of Santo Tomás in Madrid who were primarily responsible for promoting this cult in Spain, and that Maíno played a key role in the formulation of its visual expression.

The episode depicted is that of the miracle that took place in the relatively minor Dominican monastery in Soriano Calabro (Vibo Valentia, Calabria, Italy) on 15 September 1530. On that night, three women appeared to a lay brother and gave him a rolled up canvas of a portrait of Saint Dominic. The mysterious vision took place again over three consecutive nights during which various issues gradually became clear: the women were the Virgin, Saint Catherine of Siena and Mary Magdalene, who had come to the monastery to bring the vera effigie of the founder of the Dominican order as that building lacked a worthy image of the saint. The likeness is described in detail in the Raccolta by Silvestro Frangipane, which is the first account on the monastery in Soriano.

The three versions that are now securely attributed to Maíno use the same composition: Saint Catherine of Siena holds up the canvas with the image of Saint Dominic while the Virgin points to it, looking at the Dominican monk kneeling on the left who is experiencing the vision. The Magdalen appears in three-quarter profile on the right, closing the composition on that side. Maíno places most emphasis on the Virgin, attaching less importance to the other two saints. The Virgin’s pointing gesture recalls the scene of the tapestry with the portrait of Philip IV in Maíno’s Recapture of Bahía, as Steven N. Orso observed.

With regard to detail, however, there are numerous variations between the three renditions. The portrait of Saint Dominic (young and bearded, rather than the older man in the original in Soriano) varies in all three cases, while the monk experiencing the vision is different in the Prado canvas. It is possible that the separate patrons of the three works wished to be depicted as protagonists of the miraculous event.

In the canvas in the Hermitage, the architectural background that represents the church in Soriano where the apparition took place is of a classical style with Ionic pilasters, while the works in the Prado and the church of Santa Eulalia include a depiction of an altarpiece in the background (whose style in the Prado rendition is notably close to Maíno’s altarpiece for the Franciscans in Pastrana), the subject of which is the Annunciation. The choice of this subject was not a random one, as according to printed sources on the history of the monastery in Soriano Calabro, its founder, Vincenzo Catanzaro, lived in a house next to a church dedicated to the Annunciation while the monastery was being built.

The version of this subject by which Maíno initially became known was a painting by his hand (now thought to be lost) that was in the chapel of the seminary of Santo Tomás in Madrid in May 1629. The Dominicans disseminated the legend of Soriano by presenting not just the original image as miraculous but also its copies, and Maíno’s painting is said to have demonstrated its thaumaturgic nature on the very day of its installation in the Madrid seminary, when every member of the family of the hosier Jusepe del Castillo was cured through its power of intercession.

These miraculous powers associated with the cult of Saint Dominic in Soriano explain the immediate dissemination of Maíno’s composition through copies and variants. They also explain some of its characteristics, such as the differences between the face of the saint in the various versions: given that the original in Soriano was considered a sacred rather than a man-made image, his apparently glowing and constantly changing face was thought to make it impossible to obtain faithful copies. Maíno always used the same presentation, which made it possible to identify the legend associated with the image and thus make it recognisable, but the saint’s face, in keeping with its sacred image character, changes from one rendition to another.

The painting in the Museo del Prado has been on deposit with the Museo de San Telmo in San Sebastian since 1884 (Carlos Varona, M. C. de,: Juan Bautista Maíno: 1581-1649, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2009, p. 304).


Technical data

Inventory number
Maíno, Fray Juan Bautista
Saint Dominic in Soriano
Ca. 1629
Height: 228 cm; Width: 124 cm
Museo de la Trinidad

Bibliography +

Pinelo, F., Vida y Milagros de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Patriarca de la Orden de Predicadores y Relación de algunos de los innumerables milagros de su imagen de Soriano y sus copias, Raymundo Magysa, Manila, 1634.

Cruzada Villaamil, Gregorio, Catálogo provisional, historial y razonado del Museo Nacional de Pinturas, Madrid, 1865, pp. 160.

Angulo Íñiguez, D.; Pérez Sánchez, A. E., Historia de la pintura española: escuela madrileña del primer tercio del siglo XVII, Instituto Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1969, pp. 316.

Viñaza, C. Muñoz y Manzano, Conde de La, Adiciones al Diccionario Histórico, III, Atlas, Madrid, 1972, pp. 38.

Orihuela, Mercedes, El ''Prado disperso''. Cuadros y esculturas depositados en San Sebastián. Museo Municipal de San Telmo, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XI, 1990, pp. 82.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (II). Museo de la Trinidad, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1991.

Boitani, M. C., Juan Bautista Maino, Fratelli Palombi Editori, Roma, 1995, pp. 181, il. 40.

Pérez Sánchez, A. E., Sobre Juan Bautista Maíno, Archivo español de arte y arqueología, LXX, 1997, pp. 113-125.

Gomez Nebreda, Maria Luisa, Pinturas de Segovia en el Museo del Prado : Estudio de las P, Caja Segovia, Segovia, 2001, pp. 103.

Collar de Cáceres, Fernando, De arte y rito. Santo Domingo en Soriano en la pintura barroca madrileña, Anuario del Departamento de Historia y Teoría del Arte, 17, 2005, pp. 39-49.

El arte en la España del Quijote, Empresa Pública Don Quijote de la Mancha 2005, Ciudad Real, 2005, pp. 268.

Casillas García, J. A., Los cuadros burgaleses de Santo Domingo en Soriano. Un ''emblema silente'', testimonio de un fenómeno socio-religioso singular, Archivo Dominicano, XXVII, 2006, pp. 349-404.

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, Maíno en Pastrana. El retablo de los Miranda, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXIV, 2006, pp. 14-23.

De Carlos Varona, Mª Cruz, 'Fray Juan Bautista Maíno. Santo Domingo en Soriano' En:, Juan Bautista Maíno, 1581-1649, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 172-177 n. 31.

Gayo, Mª D.; Jover de Celis, M., Evolución de las preparaciones en la pintura sobre lienzo de los siglos XVII y XVIII en España, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXVIII, 2010, pp. 39-59.

Ruíz Gómez, L., Algunas notas después de la exposición Juna Bautista Maíno (1581-1649) en el Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXIX, 2011, pp. 78-96 [80].

Narducci, Marco Sergio, Il San Domenico in Soriano: diffussione del culto e iconografia negli antichi Paesi Bassi spagnoli, Arte cristaina, 915, 2020, pp. 406-425.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 792.
CUADROS ANÓNIMOS DE LA ESCUELA TOLEDANA. / 792. Asunto místico. / Lienzo. - Al. 2,285. - An. 1,26. - Fig. poco myr. n. / Epoca: primer tercio del siglo XVI.-Estilo Mayno. / La Satísima Vírgen, acompañada de una jóven, muestra a un fraile dominico el retrato de Santo Domingo de Silos, pintado en un lienzo y sostenido por una jóven.

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 792.
792. / Domingo representado en un paño, y presentado p.r una joven á la Virgen. F.s menor q.e el nat.l y cuerpo entº. / Autor Mayno / alto 2,28 ancho 1,24. / y en / Nº 75 / S.P.

Exhibitions +

Meta-painting. A Journey to the Idea of Art
15.11.2016 - 19.02.2017

Juan Bautista Maíno (1581-1649)
20.10.2009 - 17.01.2010

El arte en la España del Quijote
Ciudad Real
03.11.2005 - 26.02.2006

Displayed objects +


Update date: 19-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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