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Juan Carreño de Miranda

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The Visitation

by Juan Carreño de Miranda, circa 1655–1660

Pen and brown ink and gray-brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over touches of black chalk (recto); black chalk (verso)
24.8 × 23.7 cm (9 3/4 × 9 5/16 in)

Two cousins share in a moment of mutual happiness in this scene of rejoicing. The Virgin Mary rushes up the steps to congratulate her elderly cousin Saint Elizabeth, placing her left hand on Elizabeth's shoulder and clasping the other. Both women celebrate their respective pregnancies, the Virgin with the infant Jesus and Elizabeth with John the Baptist. Elizabeth had particular cause for celebration as she had conceived in old age, after a lifetime of barrenness.

Juan Carreño de Miranda conveyed the scene thorough energetic motion and nervous handling of the pen. Vigorous strokes describe the flowing outline of the Virgin's cloak, while summary passages of wash in gray-brown define Elizabeth's head and back. Amid the swirling mass of lines on the left several indistinct heads are visible. Another mother crouches at the foot of the steps, holding a baby in her arms.

J. Paul Getty Museum

17th century