28
28
Attributed to Doménikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco
SAINT VERONICA HOLDING THE VEIL
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 672,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
28
Attributed to Doménikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco
SAINT VERONICA HOLDING THE VEIL
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 672,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Master Paintings & Sculpture Evening Sale

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Attributed to Doménikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco
CANDÍA, CRETE 1541 – 1614 TOLEDO
SAINT VERONICA HOLDING THE VEIL
oil on canvas, with a 1 3/4  in. later addition along the top
42 3/8  by 32 1/4  in.; 107.5 by 82 cm.
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Provenance

Probably the painting listed in the second posthumous inventory of the artist's possessions in 1621, no. 169, “Una muger Veronica,” 1 by 1 ¼  varas [approximately 81 by 104 cm.] (see note below);
In the collection of the painter, José Casado del Alisal (1830/32-1886), Madrid;
By inheritance to his brother, Carlos Casado del Alisal, who took it to Buenos Aires in 1900;
Thence by descent in the family;
From whom acquired by Bonifacio del Carril, Buenos Aires, before 1960;
From whom acquired by the present owner in 1973.

Exhibited

Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Exposición de Pintura Española, de Los Primativos a Rosales, 1939, no. 18 (as by El Greco).

Literature

R. Becerro de Bengoa, El estudio del gran pintor Casado, Madrid 1886, p. 15 (as an admirable Veronica by El Greco);
Sampere y Miquel, “Domenikos Theotokopoulos, El Hombre 1” in Revista de la Asociacion-Artistico-Arqueologica-Barcelonesa, Ano IV, Marzo-Abril 1900, no. 18, p.  p. 391, reproduced p. 384 (mentions a Saint Veronica from the Casado family in Buenos Aires);
M. B. Cossio, El Greco, Madrid 1908, p. 612, cat. no. 358 (as by El Greco, but he has only seen photographs);
A. L Mayer, El Greco, Munich 1911, p. 81 (as a late work);
A. L. Mayer, Dominico Theotocopuli, el Greco, Munich 1926, cat. no. 67b (as a copy of an original of circa 1590-95, but he reproduces the version in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich as the Casado family picture);
F. de B. San Roman, “De la vida del Greco,” in Archivo Espanol de Arte, Centro de estudios historicos, no. 9, Madrid 1927, p. 296 (identifying the present painting as no. 96 in the 1621 posthumous inventory of the artist's possessions);
J. C. Aznar, Dominico Greco, Madrid 1950, vol. I, pp. 418 and 419, reproduced figs. 301 and 302, p. 420; vol. II, p. 1364, cat. nos. 139 and 140 (as a late work by El Greco; however he mistakenly conflates the Casado provenance with the Munich painting (cat. no. 139); his correct entry on the Casado painting is cat. no. 140);
H. Soehner, "Greco in Spanien: Teil I: Grecos Stilentwicklung in Spanien," Münchner Jahrbuch der Bildenden Kunst, VIII, 1957, p. 179 (as a replica by Jorge Manuel of a lost original datable to circa 1603/05);
E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs, Paris 1976, vol. 5, p. 184 (mentioned under versions of the Holy Face);
H.E. Wethey, El Greco and His School, Princeton 1962, vol. II, p. 148, p. 258, cat. no. X-459 (as School of El Greco, early 17th century);
T. Frati, L’opera completa del Greco, Milano 1969, p. 95, under cat. no. 22c (as confused in the past with the Munich picture and considered by Wethey to be a copy from the early 17th century);
J. C. Aznar, Dominico Greco, Madrid 1970, vol. I, p. 437, reproduced pp. 438 and 439, figs. 335 and 336; vol. II, p. 1345 cat. no. 143 (as by El Greco, datable circa 1610);
J. Gudiol, Domenikos Theotokopoulos, Le Gréco, 1541-1614, Paris 1973, cat. no. 235, reproduced fig. 261 (as by El Greco, datable circa 1608-1614);
L. Ruiz Gomez, El Greco en el Museo Nacional del Prado: catálogo razonado, Madrid 2007, p. 65, note 1 (as probably no. 169 in the 1621 inventory, but does not comment on attribution).

Catalogue Note

This painting of Saint Veronica Holding the Veil has been largely unseen by the public and most scholars for much of the last century.  Believed by a number of experts to be an autograph late work by El Greco, it was in the collection of the painter José Casado del Alisal in Madrid in the late 19th century and subsequently taken to Buenos Aires by his brother in 1900. It was later acquired there by Bonifacio del Carril before entering the collection of the present owner in 1973.

According to the legend of Saint Veronica, when Jesus was on the road to Calvary to be crucified she offered to wipe the sweat and blood from his face with her veil. Afterward, the features of his face were miraculously imprinted on the cloth.  Though there is no biblical account of this event, the subject may have found its root in the story told in the gospel of Luke (8:43-48) of a woman who is healed by touching the garment of Jesus.  She was identified as Veronica in one of the apocryphal gospels, though the episode is not part of the Passion.

El Greco treated the subject of Saint Veronica a number of times throughout his career, depicting it in two different ways:  that of the figure of the saint holding her veil on which appears the imprinted visage of Christ, such as the present work, and that of the Holy Face, depicting only the holy cloth (sudarium) with Christ’s image.  Of the type with Veronica holding her veil, the earliest example is the signed work, which dates from circa 1577-1578, formerly in the collection of Maria Luisa Caturla, Madrid (see Literature, Wethey cat. no. 282).  Another of this format, dated slightly later to circa 1580, is in the Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo (fig. 1).  In both the ex Caturla and Toledo versions, the figure of Veronica looks off to her left and is mostly hidden behind the outstretched veil.  The imprinted face of Christ wears the crown of thorns and is framed with a dark outline around the edges of the cloth.  In the present depiction, the torso of Veronica is fully visible.  She stares out of the picture plane, engaging the viewers directly and inviting them to contemplate the miracle of her veil and, thereby, the sanctity of Christ.  Another Veronica Holding the Veil, in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, and considered to be from the Workshop of El Greco, follows more closely the composition of the present Veronica.  Veronica's pose in the present painting, with head tilted slightly to her left, and the treatment of her garments are very similar to those of the Virgin Mary in the Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen, of circa 1590-95, in the Cleveland Museum of Art (fig. 2).

Throughout the 20th century, this Veronica has been much published in El Greco literature though, due to it's inaccessibility, was never seen firsthand by most of the scholars who were judging its authorship.  Among those scholars who rejected the picture were August Mayer (1926), Halldor Soehner (1957) and Harold Wethey (1962).  None had seen the painting and Mayer confused it with the workshop version in Munich, after having first published (1911) the Veronica in the Casado collection as a late work by the artist (however there is no size given or reproduction so it is not clear which version he is referring to).  Scholars who accepted the painting as a work by the hand of El Greco include Manuel Cossio (1908), José Camon Aznar (1950 & 1970)1 and Jose Gudiol (1973).  Only Gudiol saw the painting firsthand, in Paris in 1973, and published it as an admirable work by El Greco datable to 1608-1614.2  He particularly praised the face and hands.

Following El Greco’s death, two inventories of his possessions were drawn up by his son Jorge Manuel Theotócopuli (1578-1631), the first dated 1614 and the second dated 1621.  Jorge Manuel, a painter and architect, was active in his father’s workshop and continued to head it after his father’s death.  Two paintings of Saint Veronica are listed in the 1614 inventory :  “una Veronica” and "Una Veronica con Angeles por acabar," both without measurements.  The second inventory also lists two Veronicas:  no. 96, “una Veronica,” 1 by ¾ varas (approximately  84 by 63 cm.); and no. 169, “Una muger Veronica,” 1 by 1 ¼  varas  (approximately 81 by 104 cm.)(3).   San Roman (see Literature) identified no. 96 as the painting in Buenos Aires, while Wethey and, more recently, Ruiz (see Literature) have speculated that no. 169 in the second inventory is probably identifiable as the Buenos Aires picture.  This painting has a later addition along the top measuring 1 3/4 in.  Excluding this addition, the measurements in centimeters are 103 by 81, only off by one centimeter in height from the painting listed in the second inventory and making a strong case that the present Saint Veronica is identifiable with that painting.

  

 

1.  In his 1950 edition, Aznar conflated provenance of the Casado/Bonifacio del Carril version with the Munich painting, listing the Casado ownership for both paintings. In a letter to Sr. Bonifacio del Carril dated 26 December 1959, he apologizes for the error and states his belief that his version of Veronica is his cat. no. 140 which he considers to be authentic.
2.  Copy of letter dated 18 October 1973.
3.  See Wethey, under Literature,  p. 148.

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