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The presentation of the Virgin at the Temple
Giordano, Luca
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Giordano, Luca

Naples (Italy), 1634 - Naples (Italy), 1705

Giordano, Luca See author's file

The presentation of the Virgin at the Temple

Ca. 1697. Grey-brown wash, Black chalk, Ink on laid paper.
Not on display

When the Virgin Mary was three years old her parents, Anna and Joachim, led her to the Temple of Jerusalem. There the young Virgin, without the assistance of her parents, climbed the staircase leading to the priest, who, surrounded by the women of the temple, embraced and blessed her.

The episode is contained in the Gospel of James and in the Golden Legend (c.1250). Since the 1960s this drawing has been correctly viewed in relation to Luca Giordano’s painting The presentation of the Virgin at the Temple, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, one of a cycle of eight paintings dedicated to the history of the Holy Family, which are believed to have been executed for one of the royal residences of Charles II, around 1697. The entire group arrived in Vienna in 1711 when Charles VI, who had briefly claimed the Kingdom of Spain under the name of Charles III, became Holy Roman Emperor and included it among the imperial collections of Stallburg. An unpublished inventory of the same age, the so-called Storffer’s, in the third volume, reproduces the entire Vienna pictorial cycle, illustrated with miniatures of the paintings kept in the imperial gallery. Four rectangular-shaped paintings hung over another four square-format paintings. It would seem, however, that two of the paintings, The birth of the Virgin and The death of the Virgin, do not belong to the original group due to differences in style and dimensions.

The classicist imprinting of The presentation of the Virgin at the Temple in Vienna, characterised by its heavily draped and sculptural figures, evokes the contemporaneous trends of the Roman Baroque and prefigures the style of the new century. The Prado drawing is distinguished by the same characteristics. In it the pen and ink were applied before the wash to give structure to the base black pencil sketching, as well as to suggest the same luminosity of colour that we can appreciate in the canvas.

Even with certain less striking variants, such as those in the drawing for God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, c.1694/96, in the step from drawing to painting we do not see Giordano slavishly following his preliminary idea, a sign of the artist’s propensity to paint directly onto the canvas, making adjustments as he deemed necessary. This is evident in the definitive and differing proportions between the Virgin’s parents and among the three women in the lower left of the composition; similarly with the appearance of the two young men placed on the proscenium and to the side of the priest (Farina, V.: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain´s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 184).


Technical data

Related artworks

The Visitation
Grey-brown wash, Black chalk on white paper, Ca. 1697
Giordano, Luca
Inventory number
Giordano, Luca
The presentation of the Virgin at the Temple
Ca. 1697
Grey-brown wash; Black chalk; Ink
Laid paper
Height: 247 mm; Width: 283 mm
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Ferrari, Oreste, Luca Giordano, II, Edizione Scientifiche Italiani, 1966, pp. 202 y 261 / lám. XXV.

Ferrari, Oreste, Luca Giordano, I, Edizione Scientifiche Italiani, Milán, 1966, pp. 200.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., The Collection of Drawings in the Prado Museum, Apollo, 1970, pp. 387 / lám. 7.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., I Grandi Disegni Italiani Nelle Collezioni Di Madrid, Silvana Editoriale D'Arte, Milán, 1978, pp. nº 53.

Mena Marqués, Manuela, Catalogo de Dibujos.Vol.VI. Dibujos Italianos del Siglo XVII, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1983, pp. 97.

Farina, V, Luca Giordano 'The presentation of the Virgin at the Temple' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 184.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 4.

Inv. General, Sección 3ª. Dibujos, grabados, acuarelas y miniaturas, 1879. Núm. 72.
Numeración Antigua 4. [Numeración] Moderna 72. La Presentacion de Nª. Sª. en el Templo. A. L. Jordan alto 0,25 por 0,29 ancho. marco negro y cristal-

Inv. Dibujos, Fondo Antiguo. Núm. 679.

Inscriptions +

Nº. 4 [grafía del siglo XIX]
Inscribed. Front, Lower right area

Exhibitions +

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

Update date: 11-12-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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