Guido Reni (Italian, Bolognese, 1575–1642)
Oil on canvas
105 1/2 x 73 in. (268 x 185.4 cm)
Victor Wilbour Memorial Fund, 1959 (59.32)
According to a seventeenth-century source, the picture was commissioned from Reni in Rome in about 1627 by the Spanish ambassador, the Count of Oñate, for the Infanta of Spain. It was later in the cathedral at Seville, where it exercised a deep influence on Spanish artists, especially Murillo. It was subsequently (1851–1946) in the collection of the earls of Ellesmere at Bridgewater House. Reni, the most celebrated and highly paid artist of seventeenth-century Italy, was particularly famous for the beauty of his female heads and the devotional effectiveness of his paintings of the Madonna. The pale, light-filled colors are typical of his mature work.