Miracle of the Bees


Datos principales

120 x 107 cm.
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Esquema relacional

In 1673 Valdés Leal was working on the paintings for the retable in the lower chapel in the Archbishop's Palace in Seville, commissioned by the archbishop of Seville, Don Ambrosio de Spínola. The series was made up of seven paintings on the life of Saint Ambrose. The archbishop wanted to create a parallel between his own activity as archbishop and the holy father of the Church and the artist even uses the archbishop's face to give life to the saint in the paintings. The miracle of the bees is the first in the series and narrates the miracle that took place during the saint's childhood during his stay in Rome where his father was governor. A swarm of bees entered the room in the palace where the young boy was resting. They buzzed around the sleeping boy and even entered his mouth. When the insects left the room the saint had not been stung at all. Valdés Leal depicts the scene in a striking architectural interior worthy of a Roman palace, framing the main scene with a red curtain. The stairs that leads up to the room and the arcade in the background increase the monumentality. The light from the left is filtered as the scene takes place inside, creating attractive contrasts. In the background a subtle illumination from the right reveals an open window with two figures standing gazing at the place where the miracle has taken place. The attitudes and gestures of the figures, as well as their clothes, have been taken from everyday Sevillian life, popularising the composition as a result. The governess who looks after the young boy is afraid at the arrival of the swarm while his father reacts cautiously and the two ladies-in-waiting comment on the event. The artist has used very free strokes, blurring the figures with his rapid touches to create a striking result.

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