Juan Carreño de Miranda

gigatos | February 23, 2022


Juan Carreño de Miranda (Avilés, March 25, 1614-Madrid, October 3, 1685) was a Spanish Baroque painter. Called by Miguel de Unamuno painter of the “Austrian decadence of Spain”, from 1671 he occupied the post of chamber painter of Charles II. He painted between 1658 and 1671, in close collaboration with Francisco Rizi, large altar canvases in oil and, in fresco or tempera, the ceilings of some halls of the old Alcazar of Madrid, those of the dressing room of the Virgen del Sagrario of the cathedral of Toledo and those of several churches in Madrid, of which only partially survive, the work done in the cathedral of Toledo and the paintings of the elliptical dome of the church of San Antonio de los Alemanes. As a court portraitist, he continued the type of Velazquez”s portraits, with the same sobriety and lack of artifice, but using a looser and more doughy brushstroke technique than the one used by the Sevillian master, without lacking, especially in the male portraits, the influences of Anton van Dyck, as corresponds to a more advanced date. To this final stage of his career belong the portraits -to which much of his fame is linked- of Charles II and his mother, the widowed queen Mariana of Austria, of the Russian ambassador, Piotr Ivanovich Potemkin, of Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, dressed and naked, and of the jester Francisco de Bazán (Museo del Prado), the latter portraits of court dwarfs and jesters treated with the gravity and decorum of Velazquez.

Training and early years

The son of Juan Carreño de Miranda and his wife, Catalina Fernández Bermúdez, natives of the council of Carreño in Asturias, noble sons and descendants of the old Asturian nobility, according to the biography dedicated to him by Antonio Palomino, who in his information follows Lázaro Díaz del Valle almost to the letter, he was born in Avilés on March 25, 1614. Some indications suggest, however, that the painter”s mother may have been a servant and not the wife of Juan Carreño Sr. This condition of illegitimate son would explain the lack of interest in noble habits to which Palomino alludes, since aspiring to them would have made it inevitable to open a file to gather information about his family origins. Around 1625 the family moved to Madrid. The economic situation of the family was going through some difficulties, as can be seen from the numerous memorials addressed to Philip IV by his father, who, in spite of his undisputed noble origins, is documented in Madrid as a painting merchant.

Shortly after arriving in Madrid and “against his father”s wishes” he must have begun his artistic training, first with Pedro de las Cuevas, a famous master painter, and later with Bartolomé Román, although there is no precise information on the time he spent with them. According to Palomino, after perfecting his color skills with Román, he completed his training at the age of twenty by attending the academies that were held in Madrid, where he soon showed signs of his ability, demonstrated in the paintings he did in his early years as a painter for the cloister of the Colegio de doña María de Aragón.

These paintings and those he did for the Dominican convent of the Rosary in Madrid having been lost, the first dated work known to us – the Saint Anthony of Padua preaching to the fish in the Prado Museum, from the Oratory of the Caballero de Gracia – is signed in 1646, when at the age of thirty-two he was already a fully trained painter with some years of profession behind him. At such a relatively late date, certain archaisms in the foreshortenings of the angels flying over the scene and the figure of the saint, of clear and precise drawing, with memories that still go back to Vicente Carducho, Bartolomé Román”s teacher, combine with a sense of color that seems to be indebted to Anton van Dyck. That sense of color and the vibrant brushstroke of Titianesque origin reach heights of Venetian sensuality in a work also early as The Penitent Magdalene of the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias, dated only a year later, in 1647, or in the somewhat later one of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. Both are probably the Magdalenas penitentes en el desierto mentioned by Palomino as “marvelous works”, the first located in the so-called “room of the eminent Spaniards” of the palace of the Admiral of Castile and the second, of greater commitment, considered by Pérez Sánchez as “one of the most beautiful works of all Spanish painting and (…) one of the most conscious tributes to Titian of all the artists of Madrid”, for a collateral altar of the convent of Las Recogidas.

The documentary information for these early years is also scarce. In 1639, claiming to be a native of the council of Carreño, he married María de Medina, daughter of a Valladolid painter professionally related to Andrés Carreño, the painter”s uncle. The couple had no children but in 1677, when they were already old, they “threw a newborn girl at his door” whom they baptized with the name of María Josefa and treated as a daughter. The same year in which the Magdalena de Oviedo is dated, he contracted with the merchant Juan de Segovia a large canvas of the Feast of Balthazar, possibly the one preserved in the Bowes Museum of Barnard Castle, Durham, concluded years later and the origin of a lawsuit due to the delay in its delivery. Richer in news is the year 1649, when it is recorded that he rented some houses overlooking the old Alcázar of Madrid, opposite San Gil, and signed the Holy Family of the church of San Martín, in which the Flemish influence of Rubens predominates, from whom he took both the color and the composition, freely interpreted.

From 1653, signed and dated, is the Annunciation of the Hospital of the Venerable Third Order where it is still preserved along with its companion, the Mystical Nuptials of St. Catherine, probably painted in the same year although they are not signed. In them the fluency of the brush of the Venetian tradition merges with the influences of Rubens, in the voluminous types and the brightness, and those of Van Dyck, from whom he took the rhythmic arrangement of the figures of the Virgin, the Child and the saint in the painting of the Betrothal, in which he adapted to the landscape format of the canvas a vertical composition of the Flemish: The Virgin and Child, Saint Rosalia and other saints, which Carreño may have known from the engraving that Paulus Pontius made from it.

The use of Rubensian models, freely interpreted, can also be seen in the monumental Assumption of the Virgin in the National Museum of Poznan (Poland), from the main altarpiece of the parish church of Alcorcón (Madrid), which must have been finished shortly before 1657, when Lázaro Díaz del Valle wrote his notes mentioning it as recently painted. The source on which it is based, as has been pointed out, is the large canvas of the same subject painted by Rubens for the cathedral of Antwerp, which Carreño may have known from an engraving by Schelte à Bolswert. The result is, however, extremely personal both for the subtle variations in the postures and attitudes of the figures and for the play of chiaroscuro and the lightness and fluidity of the brushstroke. A sheet of paper tinted in brown wash with up to nine pen studies of the figure of the Virgin (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art) has been related to this Poznan Assumption, the composition of which Carreño must have meditated on at length. Satisfied with the result, he used the main figure of the Virgin with the pedestal of child angels to attend to at least two other commissions, perhaps motivated by the immediate success of the composition: framed in a garland of flowers and exquisite colors, the group of the Virgin is repeated on a smaller scale in an exceptional oil painting on an octagonal marble support, signed and dated 1656, which is preserved in an altar of the Diocesan Seminary of Segovia, primitive church of Jesuits and, with some difference especially in the face of the Virgin and in the attributes carried by the child angels, in a canvas of unknown provenance conserved in the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao, with a practically lost signature.

Also dated 1656, the Museo del Prado”s Saint Sebastian, from the monastery of the Cistercian nuns of the Piedad Bernarda, commonly known as the Vallecas, repeats in the figure of the martyr the model created by Pedro de Orrente for his Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian in the cathedral of Valencia, at the same time that it idealizes him by cutting out his silhouette on a blue sky crossed by fluffy clouds of Venetian origin, far removed from Orrente”s tenebrism and his sculptural naturalism. A little later, the Santiago in the battle of Clavijo of the Museum of Fine Arts of Budapest, signed and dated in 1660 and inspired by the Saint George and the dragon of Rubens (Museo del Prado), is already a fully baroque work by the extraordinary dynamism that the horse in corvette imprints to the composition, with the head turned on itself in enveloping movement, the agitation of the fabrics whipped by the wind and the blurred brushstroke with which he blurs the figures.

Collaboration with Francisco Rizi: large mural and decorative cycles

In 1657 he was elected mayor of the hijosdalgo de Avilés, probably an honorary position since there is no record of him leaving Madrid, and in 1658 he was elected a nobleman of the town of Madrid. That same year he painted a Crucifix on cut wood with a dedication to Philip IV (Indianapolis Museum of Art). This is the first recorded attempt to approach the court, although his knowledge of the paintings of the Venetian and Flemish masters indicates that he had already had access to the palace collections and had dealt with Velázquez beforehand. In December 1658 he declared in favor of the Sevillian in the report for the concession of the habit of the Order of Santiago to Velázquez, whom he claimed to have known almost since his arrival in Madrid. Only a few months later it would be Velázquez himself who recommended Carreño to work on the decoration of the Hall of Mirrors of the Alcázar of Madrid under the orders of Agostino Mitelli and Angelo Michele Colonna, who introduced the quadratura technique in Spain. Palomino tells in his biography that, seeing Velázquez busy one day in his obligations with the municipality, “pitying him for spending his time in something that was not painting, he told him that he needed him for the service of His Majesty, in the painting that was to be done in the great hall of the Mirrors”. In the decoration of the hall, begun in April 1659, Carreño shared with Francisco Rizi the story of Pandora, in which he was responsible for the painting of Vulcan giving form in clay to the beautiful maiden and her marriage with Epimetheus, a story that, according to Palomino, he could not finish when a serious illness befell him and was completed by Rizi. The frescoes were destroyed in the Alcázar fire of 1734, although they had already had to be repaired and repainted in oil by Carreño himself, only a drawing of the birth of Pandora (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando), attributed to Carreño, is preserved, which could have this destiny.

The paintings of the Salón de los Espejos, Carreño”s first for the king, also marked the beginning of the collaboration with Rizi. Both worked immediately for Gaspar Méndez de Haro, Marquis of Carpio and Heliche, in the family home of the Huerta de San Joaquín in Madrid and in the Moncloa estate, on the road to El Pardo, which the marquis acquired in 1660. Of special importance must have been the decoration of this one, for which Heliche counted on Colonna – deceased Mitelli – in the painting of the ceilings, and on Rizi and Carreño for the painting of the walls, in which under the direction of the two masters were copied in oil, according to Palomino, “the best paintings that could have been” of the palace. Some of them were still badly damaged in 1936, when the palace was practically destroyed before being definitively demolished for the construction of the present one. They then worked in fresco on the oval dome and lower ring of the church of San Antonio de los Portugueses (now the church of the Alemanes) between 1662 and 1666. According to Palomino, Rizi was responsible for the architecture and ornamentation and Carreño for the figures, although some drawings preserved in the Museo del Prado and the Casa de la Moneda indicate that Rizi also provided the first designs with the original idea for the central scene of the apotheosis of the saint.

These frescoes of San Antonio de los Portugueses, although retouched by Luca Giordano, are together with the poorly preserved frescoes of the chapel of the Virgen del Sagrario in the cathedral of Toledo, completed in 1667, the only decorative projects resulting from the collaboration of the two painters that have been preserved after the frescoes painted for the Hall of Mirrors and the Gallery of the Ladies of the old Alcazar were destroyed in various circumstances, those of the dressing room of the Virgin of the disappeared church of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, contracted by Rizi as the king”s painter and by Carreño as “his companion” in 1664, and those that decorated the dome of the Ochavo of the cathedral of Toledo, begun in 1665 and completed in 1671, which had to be replaced in 1778 because of their poor condition by the new frescoes painted by Mariano Salvador Maella.

He also collaborated with Rizi in the Holy Week Monument of the Cathedral of Toledo, in the church of the Capuchins in Segovia and in the decoration of the chapel of San Isidro in the parish of San Andrés. From 1663 to 1668 payments to the two painters are recorded for four paintings that were destroyed in 1936, in the fire of the temple at the beginning of the civil war. Two preparatory drawings and an engraving by Juan Bernabé Palomino allow in this case to know at least the original composition of the Miracle of the fountain, whose execution corresponded to Carreño along with the story of the so-called shepherd of Las Navas, who according to legend was recognized by King Alfonso VIII in the incorrupt body of the saint from Madrid.

The collaboration with Rizi also seems to have been very close in The Foundation of the Trinitarian Order, a canvas destined for the main altar of the church of the convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Pamplona, now in the Louvre Museum. Although a document that testifies to its placement in the temple indicates that it was painted by “Rizio and Carreño” and that 500 silver ducats were paid for it, the canvas, of considerable dimensions, is signed and dated in 1666 only by Carreño, as is a sketch or model for the use of the workshop, now preserved in Vienna, which could be the one that according to Antonio Palomino was kept by his disciple Jerónimo Ezquerra, in whose possession he was able to see it and admire it. The original idea, however, corresponds to a composition provided by Rizi, of which a detailed drawing preserved in the Galleria degli Uffizi is known, a drawing transferred to canvas by Carreño with very slight variations. One of the most complex and appreciated works of Carreño”s production at all times, with which the most international Baroque definitively triumphed in Madrid, thus has, as its starting point, a composition by Rizi.

Independently, the first accurately dated portraits and the first versions of the theme of the Immaculate Conception, an iconographic motif that was very common in Spanish painting in the second half of the 17th century and also in Carreño”s production, date from the early 1660s. The approval by Pope Alexander VII of the Apostolic Constitution Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, in which he proclaimed the antiquity of the pious belief in the spotless conception of Mary, admitted her feast, and affirmed that few Catholics rejected it, putting an end to decades of interdiction, was received in Spain with enthusiasm and everywhere great feasts were celebrated, multiplying the commissions to painters and sculptors.

From the same year 1662 are the first two signed and dated Inmaculadas by Carreño (former Gómez-Moreno de Granada and Adanero collections) and in them the iconographic type is fully formed, which with slight variations will be repeated many times by the artist himself or his workshop, a sure sign of the popularity he enjoyed. With memories of Rubens in the head, slightly inclined, and in the general disposition of the figure, the Virgin is presented standing on the crescent of the moon surrounded by a pedestal of angels, almost translucent those that occupy the second plane. The right arm is bent over the chest, somewhat advanced, casting a subtle shadow on the white mantle. The left arm, over which the blue mantle passes, is separated from the body, extended, counteracting the curvature of the right hip, in contrapposto, so that the central figure of Mary seems to be framed in a rhomboidal silhouette. It is the type that follows, among others, the Inmaculadas of the Museum of Guadalajara, resolved with extraordinarily light brushstroke and bright color, very close to the first dated ones, or the one of the Old Cathedral of Vitoria, signed in 1666, as well as the one that seems to be the last one he painted, the one of the Royal Monastery of the Incarnation of Madrid, dated in 1683. The same type follows the one conserved in the Hispanic Society of America that, signed and dated in 1670, was already before 1682 in Mexico, where it was copied by Baltasar de Echave Rioja (1632-1682), thus extending its influence to New Spain.

King”s painter and chamber painter

In September 1669 he was appointed painter to the king with an allowance of 72,000 maravedises a year, to which would have to be added the value of what he painted, fixed according to an appraisal -payments that he always had difficulty collecting- and in December of the same year he added to this the appointment of assistant to the furriera, which implied receiving the keys to the palace and obliged him to take on tasks of conservation and repair of the furniture. Two years later, in April 1671, ahead of Rizi, he was preferred to occupy the position of chamber painter that was vacant due to the death of Sebastián Herrera Barnuevo, with an annual allowance of 90,000 maravedises. The appointment caused a cooling of relations with Rizi, with whom he did not collaborate again, and the undisguised anger of Francisco de Herrera the Younger, famous for his bad temper, who would not miss any opportunity to mock the chamber painter, whom according to some anecdotes collected by Palomino, he satirized in words or in writing because of a certain malformation in his feet, which were not “as polished (…) as Herrera presumed”.

Carreño”s application to the portrait genre seems to have begun shortly before these appointments. The first portrait known of him, and it is somewhat isolated in his biography, that of Bernabé Ochoa de Chinchetru, a friend of the painter and his executor (New York, Hispanic Society of America), bears the date 1660. From 1663, although the last figure is difficult to read, it could be that of the Marquise of Santa Cruz, wife of Francisco Diego de Bazán y Benavides, also portrayed by Carreño possibly before 1670 and with a strange attire that seems foreign to Spanish fashion, loaded with lace (both in the possession of the descendants of the portrayed). A more Velázquez-like tone, analogous to that of the Marquise of Santa Cruz, are a couple of female portraits, owned by the Dukes of Lerma, or that of an unknown lady from the convent of the Discalced Carmelites of Boadilla del Monte, perhaps the wife of its founder, Juan González de Uzqueta, now in the BBVA collection, and the most notable of all this series of portraits painted around 1670, which presumably represents Inés de Zúñiga, Countess of Monterrey (Madrid, Museo Lázaro Galdiano), “almost worthy of Velázquez” according to Valentín Carderera, painted with loose brushstrokes and a refined range of pinkish and silver colors enhanced by the black of the basquiña on the wide guardainfante.

The portrait of the Duke of Pastrana (Museo del Prado), for which very different dates have been considered, exemplifies the second direction adopted by portraits in the Asturian master”s painting, the one influenced by Anton van Dyck”s elegant demeanor and sense of color. Carreño”s interest in Flemish portraits is evidenced by a quick sketch in black pencil (Biblioteca Nacional de España) of the portrait of the young Filippo Francesco d”Este, Marquis of Lanzo, painted by Anton van Dyck (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum) which, together with the portrait of his brother, was owned by Juan Gaspar Enríquez de Cabrera, x Admiral of Castile, in whose collection Carreño was able to study it.

Providing the official portraits of the monarchs Charles II and his mother, Mariana of Austria, would become his first duty as a court painter. Charles II (1661-1700), king without having reached the age of four since the death of his father, Philip IV, in September 1665, although under the regency of his mother until he came of age in 1675, sickly and frail in appearance, unable to have offspring, was to rule over a declining monarchy but still present on the four continents, heavily indebted and with powerful enemies, in which, be that as it may, the visual arts shone with remarkable splendor. There is clear evidence that the unfortunate monarch esteemed and protected painting and painters. In the absence of a Velázquez, between 1668 and 1698 no less than fifteen of them were favored with the title of painter to the king, although in many cases they were only honorary.

In the portrait of Charles II of the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias, signed as “pictor Regis” in 1671, we find essentially fixed the type of official portrait of the monarch, who, in successive representations, will be seen growing without altering the general scheme. Standing in a three-quarter position, legs open in compass, a piece of paper in the right hand and holding with the left the hat that rests on a porphyry table or buffet supported by two of Matteo Bonuccelli”s gilded bronze lions, emblems of the Hispanic empire, the king is depicted in the Hall of Mirrors of the old royal palace, whose decoration had been directed by Velázquez and in which Carreño himself had worked on the fresco painting of the vault. The mirrors, in which the entire room is reflected and with it some paintings by Rubens and Titian, allow Carreño to demonstrate his skill in spatial creation and with the large curtain contribute to give solemnity and magnificence to the weak figure of the monarch, bathed in Velázquez”s atmosphere.

This prototype is followed, with the necessary adaptations to the face and bringing the figure to the foreground to gain in apparent height, by the example in the Berlin Museum, dated two years later, three portraits owned by the Prado Museum, the one in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valenciennes, the one in El Escorial and many others with more or less extensive participation of the workshop. The portrait of Charles II as Grand Master of the Golden Fleece, given by the king together with another of his mother to Count Ferdinand Bonaventure de Harrach, imperial ambassador in Madrid, who took them with him on his return to Vienna in 1677, and which has remained in the possession of the family ever since (Rohrau, Harrach Collection), also follows this scheme with a different formal result due to the difference in the costumes, in which Carreño had the opportunity to exhibit his gifts as a colorist.

A new model was created in 1679 to be sent to France as a presentation portrait when, after the peace of Nijmegen that agreed on the marriage of Charles II with Marie-Louise d”Orleans, niece of Louis XIV, the betrothal was being negotiated, and the painting, which Palomino calls “celebrated”, showed the king armed. The painting, which Palomino calls “famous”, showed the king armed. From that original, now lost, seem to derive the Charles II, with armor, of the Prado Museum, signed by the painter of the chamber in 1681, and the one of the monastery of Guadalupe, sent to the monastery in 1683 by the nuncio Sabas Millini along with his own portrait, also by Carreño. The chosen space is again the Hall of Mirrors, although these are now almost completely hidden behind the wide crimson curtain and an open balcony on the right allows to see, behind the balustrade, a bright background of seascape with warships, thus introducing an element that, although fantastic, tries to emphasize and give war significance to the figure of the monarch, erect and in heroic pose, with the general”s flare in his right hand and the left resting on his hip.

This series of royal portraits ends with a large number of portraits of more or less half-length and slight variations, directly inspired by the last portrait of Philip IV made by Velázquez, of which the prototype seems to be the copy preserved in the Museo del Prado. Recovering the sobriety of Velázquez, the monarch is once again dressed in black and his figure is cut out against a dark background, with no other attribute of royalty than the golden fleece, which hangs on his chest from a fine gold chain barely suggested by discontinuous touches of light, a treatment also applied to the silver hilt of the sword. The format of the canvas forces a greater concentration on the head of the portrayed, resolved with a pictorial technique of greater finish than that of the costume, as Velázquez had also done, resulting in, according to Pérez Sánchez, “the deepest and noblest image we have left of the monarch”.

Favored by Queen Mariana of Austria, Carreño portrayed her on at least three occasions, always dressed in the widow”s headdresses that give her a monkish appearance and severe aspect, with grave dignity. The most repeated model, of which the highest quality copy is the one in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, with abundant copies from the workshop and even outside it, shows her seated in a friar”s armchair, but unlike the precedent of Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, who depicted her isolated in the middle of a room, Carreño”s portrait brings her closer to the office where she appears in desk material, with a paper or a pen in her hand, attending to the affairs of State. The space is also in the most finished copies the Hall of Mirrors, in which the Judith and Holofernes by Tintoretto, now in the Museo del Prado, stands out on its high back, in which Pérez Sánchez sees a possible allegory dedicated to the queen dowager, “the strong woman who, for her people, is capable of the most daring feats”. Different is the portrait of the Harrach de Rohrau collection, companion of Charles II as Grand Master of the Fleece. Standing, with one hand on the back of the armchair and behind her back the buffet with the tower clock, which can also be interpreted as a symbol of the virtue of prudence applied to government, makes inevitable the comparison with the portrait of the same queen painted by Velázquez around 1652-1653, on his return from his second trip to Italy (Museo del Prado), whose pose is repeated twenty years later by Carreño, replacing the complex attire of the young queen with the widow”s headdresses. A more spontaneous aspect has the third portrait, the one in the Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro de Vitoria, which is almost like a study taken from life and centered on the figure of the queen mother, only with a closed fan in her right hand and seated in an armchair barely visible against the dark background.

The Valides Fernando de Valenzuela and Juan José of Austria, the papal nuncio Sabas Millini (monastery of Guadalupe), the ambassador of Moscovia, Pedro Ivanowitz Potemkin (Prado), with his imposing appearance and colorful clothing that had to impress so much in the Spanish court, where black was still predominant in the male wardrobe, Charles II”s first wife and Queen Marie-Louise of Orleans, soon after arriving in Madrid, also posed for Carreño during these years, as did some “Palace vermin”, dwarfs and court jesters whose portraits were placed in the Cierzo gallery of the king”s room in the old palace. Of them have been identified the portraits of the dwarf Michol, or Misso (Dallas, Meadows Museum), whose smallness is emphasized by the size of the large white cockatoos and the little dogs that accompany him, and that of the jester Francisco Bazán (Madrid, Museo del Prado), called “Ánima del Purgatorio” for repeating in his madness that he was there, standing, with a submissive gesture, like one who asks for alms and a piece of paper in his hand.

Also by order of the king, he portrayed Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, a six-year-old girl from the diocese of Burgos who was presented in Madrid in 1680 as a “prodigy of nature” because of her anomalous fatness, but who could not properly be considered a court jester since she was not on the list of palace servants. The same year of her presentation at the court, a true account of her presentation was published in Madrid, illustrated with a crude woodcut of the unfortunate girl, signed by a certain Juan Camacho, who said that “The king our lord has made her dress decently for palace use, with a rich dress of red and white brocade with silver buttons and has ordered the second Apeles of our Spain, the distinguished Juan Carreño, his painter and valet, to portray her in two ways: one nude, and the other dressed up. …, and he did it with the success that his brave brush is always used to, having the girl Eugenia in his house for many hours of the day for this purpose”. Transformed by Carreño into a small god Bacchus, of her portrait, says Palomino, many copies were made and retouched by the artist himself, although none of these copies has been located.

As chamber painter he also had to take on a wide range of tasks, such as the remodeling of some rooms in the monastery of El Escorial, completing what Velázquez had begun, and the supervision of the ephemeral decorations and festive arches erected in Madrid for the entry of María Luisa de Orleans, along with the repair of the palace paintings that needed it, as he had to do with a panel by Daniel Seghers that had been damaged “because it had fallen”, or the dressing of some taffeta curtains for some paintings in the so-called vaults of Titian, where a good number of the best paintings with female nudes of the royal collection were concentrated, according to a commission received in 1677. He was no stranger to copying works by the great masters, either because they were badly damaged, as might have been the case with Guido Reni”s Judith and Holofernes, which he left unfinished in his palace workshop at his death, together with the deteriorated original painting, or because of his high esteem, as in the case of the copy he made for the Queen Governor in 1674 of Raphael”s Pasmo de Sicilia, which arrived in Spain in 1661. Along with the aforementioned copy, very literal (Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando), destined to occupy one of the altars of the convent of Discalced Carmelites of Santa Ana de Madrid, of royal patronage, Carreño painted for the attic of the same altarpiece the Santa Ana teaching the Virgin to read (deposit of the Prado Museum in the church of San Jerónimo el Real), which by its light technique must also correspond to these final moments of his career.

The last thing he painted, according to Palomino, was “an Ecce Homo for Pedro de la Abadía, a great lover of painting, and who had many other excellent paintings of Carreño”. He dictated his will on October 2, 1685 and died the following day. At the time of his death he lived in the house of the Marquises of Villatorre, in the attic of the palace. He left unfinished two paintings of St. Michael, commissioned by the Treasury Council, two large paintings for a Dominican convent in Valencia, of which we have no other news, and two canvases “started” with St. Damasus and St. Melquiades, popes of the first centuries of Christianity to which the false chronicles of Jerónimo Román de la Higuera made Madrileños, commissioned by the alderman Francisco Vela for the Hall of the City Council of Madrid. Without news of the San Melquiades, the Madrid City Hall still keeps a San Damaso attributed to Palomino before news of Carreño”s will, which may very well be the one begun by Carreño and completed by Palomino or, more probably, by Juan Serrano, to whom Carreño”s widow, who died on March 3, 1687, entrusted the care of the daughter she had adopted with her husband and the finishing of her paintings.

Carreño”s influence on the acceptance of the full Baroque by the Madrid school and on the following generation, that of the “dynastic change”, was great. Like Rizi, he had a large number of apprentices or journeymen in his workshop, including José Jiménez Donoso, who in his workshop perfected his mastery of color, Francisco Ignacio Ruiz de la Iglesia, an early collaborator of the master in the great canvases of the chapel of San Isidro in San Andrés, Jerónimo Ezquerra, Diego García de Quintana and Juan Felipe Delgado, but other painters worked or completed their training with him, taking advantage of his generosity and the open character that Palomino praises so much. Among these Claudio Coello or Palomino himself had the palace doors open and access to his paintings thanks to him. According to Palomino, the disciple who best assimilated his style was the prematurely deceased Mateo Cerezo. So was Juan Martín Cabezalero, who continued to reside in the master”s house after completing his training. In 1682 it is recorded that Juan Serrano, Jerónimo Ezquerra and Diego López el Mudo, mentioned in the will of María de Medina, widow of Carreño, dated November 3, 1686, worked in his workshop. To all three, together with Pedro Ruiz González, she made a bequest in memory of her husband. Juan Serrano, for his part, became by the widow”s disposition the material heir and the person in charge of finishing the works she left unfinished. All of them were also able to complete their training by attending drawing academies, such as José García Hidalgo who, in the Principios para estudiar el nobilísimo y real arte de la pintura, a drawing booklet in which some of Carreño”s teachings could be found, described the master as “master of the taste of art and of color”.


  1. Juan Carreño de Miranda
  2. Juan Carreño de Miranda
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