Apr 15, 2021 - Sale 2564

Sale 2564 - Lot 376

Price Realized: $ 5,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
(MEXICO.) Franco, artist. Elaborate oil portrait of Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, the influential Bishop of Puebla. Oil on canvas, 10 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches to sight; one-inch crack near bottom of left edge, light craquelure, light repairs and retouching in corners, otherwise minimal wear; in later frame. Np, circa mid-18th century?

Additional Details

A portrait of Juan de Palafox y Mendoza (1600-1659), an important and influential Bishop of Puebla from 1640 to 1655 who also served briefly as Viceroy of New Spain in 1642. He established the first public library in the Americas, and defended the rights of Indians. He is best known for his lengthy power struggle with the Jesuits of New Spain.

This allegorical portrait was likely created in support of Palafox's long process of beatification, which first received papal approval in 1726, and moved forward with an examination of his writings in 1758 (it was not concluded successfully until 2011). It depicts a beardless Palafox surrounded by seven women bearing emblems pertinent to his career. The caption circling his images reads in Latin "Ven Ioannes de Palafox episcopus angelopolitan et postea oxomen," surrounded by an elaborate array of saints bearing tribute. At bottom are the additional captions "Ingentes animas prograndia nomina prasal unicus, at gemino spiritu adauctus habet" and "Totus amor virtus sapienta gratis totus, cui sacra candet ovis cui sacra plaudit avis."

This painting appears to be the source image for at least two period engravings, and possibly three. A 1760 engraving attributed to Franz Regis Göz [Goetz] is held by the National Library of Spain. The other was engraved by [Francisco] Gutierrez circa 1780-1810; an example was sold by Swann on 10 March 2020, lot 346. A similar but distinct composition by Juan Bernabé Palamino after Antonio Velazquez was used to illustrate the 1762 Madrid edition of the Works of Palafox (a copy is held by the John Carter Brown Library).

Provenance: Alcalá Subastas in Madrid, 7 October 2015, lot 193.