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Mariano Salvador Maella

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The Apparition of the Virgin and Child to Saint Louis of France

by Mariano Salvador Maella, circa 1780–1790

Pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk; squared in black chalk
21 × 14.4 cm (8 1/4 × 5 11/16 in)

Saint Fernando gazes upward, paying homage to a vision of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child floating on a pillow of clouds surrounded by winged putti. The arched top and the squaring suggest that the artist planned a painted altarpiece.

The quick, loose strokes merely outlining the figures and the broadly applied wash alluding to their volume indicate that this preliminary drawing was made to work out the placement of the various characters. While the artist focused on the poses and gestures of the Virgin, Child, and saint, he ignored other, more intricate details. He simply suggested Jesus' features with a small dot for his eye and a single line indicating hair. Simple circles and arched lines suggest the heads and wings of the putti.

J. Paul Getty Museum

18th century