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Juan Bautista Maíno (1581-1649)

Madrid 10/20/2009 - 1/17/2010

The exhibition Juan Bautista Maíno (1581-1649) includes 35 works by the artist and a further 31 by the painters who most influenced his artistic development, among them Velázquez and Caravaggio. It will allow visitors to see most of the known works by Maíno, one of the most important figures within Spanish painting of the first half of the 17th century but also one of the least known due to the scarcity of surviving information on his life and work and the problems involved in reconstructing his biography and oeuvre.

The exhibition thus offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore and become familiar with the figure of Juan Bautista Maíno, who has not previously been the subject of a monographic exhibition. Thanks to recent research and the growing interest in his figure new attributions have been added to his small output of around 40 works. Seven of these recent attributions will be included in the exhibition as autograph works by Maíno, in addition to various paintings that were previously only known in photographic reproductions and others that have rarely been exhibited and have not previously been set within the context of the rest of his output.

The exhibition also includes notable paintings by the artist such as The repentant Saint Peter (Galería Barbié, Barcelona), The penitent Magdalen (Swiss private collection) and Saint Dominic in Soriano, the composition for which he was best known (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg).

Particularly outstanding are the ten paintings that make up Maíno’s masterpiece, The Saint Peter Martyr Altarpiece, painted for the Dominican monastery in Toledo where he took religious orders in 1613. In the past they were housed in the now defunct Museo de la Trinidad and are now part of the Prado’s collection. The four large canvases are the most important within the overall composition and can be considered key works of 17th-century Spanish painting. Of them, The Adoration of the Magi and The Adoration of the Shepherds are among the finest examples of Spanish painting of the time and immediately suggest the work of painters such as Savoldo, Caravaggio, Orazio Gentileschi and Guido Reni.

The Recapture of Bahía (1634-35) was originally in the Spanish royal collection and is Maíno’s most famous individual painting, executed for the Salón de Reinos [Hall of Realms] in the Buen Retiro palace in Madrid. Maíno was employed by the Spanish court due to his fame as an outstanding painter and his position as a Dominican monk, and around 1620, when the artist was 42, Philip III appointed him drawing master to the prince, the future Philip IV. At this period Maíno established cordial relations with Velázquez whom he supported and selected as the winner in a competition to paint the subject of The Expulsion of the Moors (now lost), preferring his entry to those by rivals of the stature of Carducho and Cajés.

Portrait of a Gentleman (1618-23) dates from this period when Maíno was close to Velázquez. Acquired by the Museo del Prado in 1936 it is one of only four signed works by Maíno and is of particular importance within his oeuvre, revealing clear parallels with Velázquez.

The German art historian Carl Justi was one of the first to locate Maíno within Caravaggio’s orbit (“It is likely that no one came as close to Caravaggio as this Spanish Dominican monk”, he wrote in 1888). The exhibition therefore includes works by Italian artists who can be related to Maíno’s years of training in Rome and his Italian roots. In addition to paintings by Caravaggio, the exhibition includes examples by Gentileschi, Reni, Saraceni, Cavarozzi, Elsheimer and Cecco de Caravaggio. Particularly notable is Caravaggio’s Ecstasy of Saint Francis, loaned by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and exhibited for the first time in Spain.

To help provide a context for Maíno’s work and in addition to the above-mentioned comparison with contemporary Italian painters, the exhibition also includes works by other contemporary Spanish painters that relate to his years in Toledo and Madrid. They include examples by El Greco, Velázquez, Tristán, Orrente, Bartolomé González, Núñez del Valle and Lanchares. Together they present a broader perspective of the significance of Maíno’s compositions within Spanish painting of the day.

The exhibition is arranged chronologically and allows for an appreciation of Maíno’s pictorial evolution through its eight thematic sections, starting with his earliest compositions for the Pastrana Altarpiece in Guadalajara. This section is followed by others on the small-format works; landscapes; the two Adorations, the Resurrection and the Pentecost for the Saint Peter Martyr Altarpiece; portraits; large-format works; saints; and finally a section on The Recapture of Bahía.

Leticia Ruiz


Room A and B



Sponsored by:
Fundación de Amigos del Museo del Prado



High altar of San Pedro Mártir

High altar of San Pedro Mártir
The Pentecost. Juan Bautista Maíno. Oil on canvas, 285 x 163 cm. 1611-1613. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado.

In 1612 Juan Bautista Maíno signed a contract with the Dominicans of San Pedro Mártir in Toledo to execute the altar piece for the high altar of the church. The structure of the altar was designed by the architect Juan Bautista Monegro, and was to include ten paintings. Of these, four are to be large-format depictions of four of the principal episodes in the life of Christ: the two Adorations, that of the Shepherds and the Magi, the Resurrection and Pentecost. Key images within Catholicism, they were collectively known as the “Cuatro Pascuas” and correspond to the liturgical feasts of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost. Aditionally there are four figures of saints in landscapes, paintings that reflect the rise of landscape painting in Rome in the early seventeenth century. Finally, the altar piece terminated on each side at the top with depictions of Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena. The importance of this commission indicates the level of prestige that Maíno had achieved a year after moving to Toledo following his return from Rome. The four large canvases betray Maíno’s commitment to complete them “as perfectly as possible”. All the compositions take into account the specific location of each scene and the sculptural elements of the altar piece.
The innovative nature of Maíno’s altar piece must have attracted widespread attention in Toledo. The monumental style, use of colour, pictorial technique and design of each composition directly looked to the most avant-garde Italian painting of the day. The four large canvases are particularly Caravaggesque, most notably in the naturalism and illumination of the figures, as well as in their bold physicalness.

Maíno completed the commission in 1614, fourteen months later than agreed. This delay may be explained by the technical complexity of the paintings, particularly the four principal canvases, and by the fact that he entered the Dominican order himself.

Maíno lived in San Pedro Mártir for several years and produced further works for the church. The most important is undoubtedly the series of mural paintings. The wall arches that flank the high altar have depictions of the Four Cardinal Virtues: Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortitude. Below the choir, adjacent to the door of the church, Maíno painted an exaltation of the Virgin as the Regina angelorum, represented by a wooden sculpture by Giraldo de Merlo, surrounded by musical angels and majestic images of Aaron and Moses. These murals can be dated to between 1620 and 1624.

Small-format Works

Small-format Works
The Resurrection of Christ. Juan Bautista Maíno. Oil on copper, 35 x 28.5 cm. Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Staatliche Kunstsammlungen.

Throughout most of the seventeenth century, numerous artists working in Italy and in particular in Rome produced small-format, cabinet paintings, often on copper panels. These were delicately executed compositions that readily found buyers on the art market of the day. They allowed painters considerable freedom for trying out new compositions or consolidating ideas and inventions derived from a variety of sources. Artists such as Guido Reni, Domenichino, the Carracci brothers, Agostino and Annibale, Carlo Saraceni and other painters working in Rome (many of them landscape painters of northern European origin) executed such works, but they were not to be found in Spanish art.

The invention of the classicinsing landscape

The invention of the classicinsing landscape
The penitent Magdalen. Juan Bautista Maíno. Oil on panel, 58 x 155 cm. 1612-1614. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado.

The depiction of landscape was one of the innovations that characterised Italian painting in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Such works tend to be idyllic scenes that evoke an Arcadian vision of the countryside without any pretence at being specific views. We find harmoniously balanced compositions arranged horizontally in line with the style of Bolognese classicism, as well as precise, specific descriptions of nature that can be related to the style of Caravaggio and the northern painters working in Rome. Maíno’s landscapes can be seen as highly innovative within Spanish painting. They relate to the shady, tranquilo view created through contrasting, parallel planes, and areas of vegetation reflected in the water of the type depicted by Annibale Carracci, Domenichino, Carlo Saraceni or Adam Elsheimer.


Saint Dominic. Juan Bautista Maíno. Oil on panel, 118 x 92 cm. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado.

Maíno was outstandingly skilled as a portraitist, as noted by Jusepe Martínez, a contemporary Aragonese portraitist and writer on art: “Maíno was particularly gifted in painting portraits, which, rather than making them close resemblances, he endowed with great love, sweetness and beauty so that, even if the sitter were ugly, he added a certain beauty without deceiving with regard to the appearance.” The highly individualised, lively nature of some of the male figures in his religious compositions suggests that, like other artists of his day, Maíno included portraits in these works. Saint Dominic from the Saint Peter Martyr Altarpiece and Saint Agabus from the Bowes Museum have such forceful, emphatic expressions that it seems likely they were based on contemporaries of the artist. The portrait of Fray Alonso de Tomás, one of Maíno’s last works, is more restrained, probably because it depicts a friar of the Dominican Order who was also a natural son of Philip IV.

Portraits II

Portraits II
Portrait of a Gentleman. Juan Bautista Maíno. Oil on canvas, 96 x 73 cm. 1613-1618. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

In spite of his fame as a portraitist in his own day, only one signed portrait by Maíno has survived: the Portrait of a Gentleman in the Museo del Prado. This is a work of outstanding quality in which the artist used pictorial formulas developed by El Greco in Toledo while also taking account of contemporary northern European painting. In 1935 the Portrait of a Monk in the Ashmolean Museum was attributed to Maíno and can probably be considered a self-portrait on account of its intensely introspective mood. As a portraitist, Maíno has been compared to Velázquez, Zurbarán, Alonso Cano, Rembrandt and Rubens, among others.

Depicting holiness

Depicting holiness
The penitent Magdalen. Juan Bautista Maíno. Oil on canvas, 117 x 89 cm. Private collection.

Among Maíno’s religious works, his depiction of single figures of saints are particularly interesting. They are conceived in a monumental manner and located very close to the viewer in order to encourage a spirit of devotion. The repentant Saint Meter –a painting that enjoyed a certain success- offers a moving depiction of the Apostle. The saint’s pose derives from Caravaggio and was subsequently used by other Spanish painters in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. The solidity of the body, the lighting and the use of space can also be related to Maíno’s Saint John the Baptist in Basel, while his monumental Saint Hyacinth reveals the artist’s abilities to work in a different format, in a manner that recalls mural painting. The penitent Magdalen is a delicate interpretation of a Flemish print and a work whose sensual colouring and physicality recall Orazio Gentileschi.

The recapture of the Bahía de Todos los Santos

The recapture of the Bahía de Todos los Santos
The Recapture of Bahía. Juan Bautista Maíno. Oil on canvas. 309 x 381 cm. 1634-1635. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado.

Maíno’s close relations with Philip IV are recorded in contemporary accounts that describe him as drawing master to the monarch and adviser on artistic matters. Nonetheless, only one specific royal commission is known: the present canvas, which was one of a series in the Salón de Reinos [Hall of Realms] in the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid. Decorated between 1634 and 1635, this room became the space that most overtly symbolised Philip’s IV’s reign as it celebrated the principal Spanish military triumphs of recent years. Maíno’s canvas was the first in the series and was the only one to include portraits of Philip IV and the Count Duke of Olivares. It stands out among the rest, in part due to its innovative presentation of war and its complex narrative structure (which includes an accurate topographical description of the place, the depiction of the royal pardon granted to prisoners, and also the tragic consequences of war), and also because of the use of a bright, clear chromatic range, and a thin brushstroke that creates effects similar to mural painting.



The Adoration of the Magi

Antonio Lanchares

Oil on canvas, 185 x 130 cm


Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado


The repentant Saint Peter

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 141 x 109 cm

Colección particular. Cortesía Galería Barbié. Barcelona


Portrait of Fray Alonso de Santo Tomás

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 94 x 61 cm


Barcelona, Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña


The Annunciation

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 76 x 61 cm


Pastrana, Guadalajara, Concepcionistas Franciscanas


The Trinity

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 161 x 126 cm


Pastrana, Guadalajara, Concepcionistas Franciscanas


Portrait of Diego de Narbona

Juan Bautista Maíno

Print, etching and engraving, 27 x 17,5 cm


Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional


Annales Tractatus Iuris

Juan Bautista Maíno

Book, 30,8 x 22,5 x 5 cm


Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional


Saint John the Baptist in an evening Landscape

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on copper, 23 x 18,5 cm

Prior to 1613

Colección particular


Landscape with the penitent Magdalen

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil o copper, 23 x 18,5 cm

Before to 1613

Colección particular


The repentant Saint Peter

Luis Tristán

Oil on canvas, 161 x 111 cm

Madrid, Palacio Real, Patrimonio Nacional


The blessed Enrique Susón

Francisco de Zurbarán

Oil on canvas, 209 x 145 cm

h. 1636 – Ca. 1638

Sevilla, Museo de Bellas Artes


The Martyrdom of Saint Eugene

Carlo Saraceni

Oil on canvas, 186 x 149 cm


Toledo, Cabildo S. I. Catedral Primada de Toledo


Saint Hyacinth

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 211 x 149 cm


Toledo, Universidad Castilla-La Mancha


The Conversion of Saint Paul

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 44,5 x 33,2 cm

Ca. 1610

Colección particular


The Crucifixion

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on copper, 24 x 20

Colección particular


The Resurrection of Christ

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on copper, 35 x 28,5 cm

Dresde, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden


Philip IV

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on silver, 4,5 x 3,8 cm


Munich, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum


Portrait of a Spanish Gentleman

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on copper, 5,4 x 4,5 cm

Ca. 1630

Munich, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum


Tobias and the Angel

Adam Elsheimer

Oil on canvas, 21 x 27 cm

Ca. 1609

Copenhague, Statens Museum for Kunst


The Adoration of the Shepherds

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 160 x 119,4 cm


Dallas, Meadows Museum


The Ecstasy of Saint Francis


Oil on canvas, 92,4 x 128,6 cm

Ca. 1596

Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art


A Sibyll

Orazio Gentileschi

Oil on canvas, 81,6 x 73 cm

Ca. 1620

Houston, Texas, The Museum of Fine Arts


Philip IV

Gaspar de Crayer

Oil on canvas, 198,1 x 118,1 cm

Ca. 1620-1630

Nueva York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art



Francesco Albani

Oil on canvas, 49 x 57 cm

Ca. 1635

París, Dépôt du Musée du Louvre


The Adoration of the Magi

Luis Tristán

Oil on canvas, 232 x 115 cm


Budapest, Szépmüvészeti Múzeum


The Adoration of the Shepherds

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 72 x 49,5 cm

Colección particular


Bishop José de Melo

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 115 x 92 cm

Cabildo Catedralicio de Évora


Portrait of a Carmelite Monk. Saint Agabus?

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 110,5 x 90,2 cm

County Durham, The Bowes Museum


The Conquest of San Salvador

Andries van Eertvelt

Oil on canvas, 67,3 x 106,7 cm

Londres, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich


Landscape with the penitent Magdalen

Anibale Carracci (atribuido a)

Oil on canvas, 73,6 x 90,5 cm

On long term loan to the National Gallery of Ireland from the Collection of Sir John Denis Mahon


Portrait of a Dominican Monk

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 47 x 33,3 cm

Oxford, The Ashmolean Museum


The Adoration of the Shepherds

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 143,5 x 100,5 cm

San Petersburgo, Museo del Hermitage


Saint John the Baptist

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 203,5 x 134 cm

San Petersburgo, Museo del Hermitage


Saint John the Baptist

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 130 x 102 cm

Ca. 1608-1610

Basilea, Kunstmuseum Basel


The penitent Magdalen

Juan Bautista Maíno

Oil on canvas, 116,7 x 80,2 cm

Colección privada

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