Lot 8
  • 8

Antonio de Pereda

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • Antonio de Pereda
  • Immaculate Conception
  • oil on canvas


Anonymous sale ('The Property of a Gentleman'), London, Sotheby's, 8 December 1993, lot 70;

With Derek Johns, London (his label on the reverse of the frame);

Believed to have been acquired by the present owner in around 1998.


The canvas has a recent lining which is sound. In general the paint surface is well preserved for a canvas of this size, the pink and light blue drapery particularly so. There has clearly been a prior problem with flaking at the extreme lower margin which is affected by some extensive recent restorations. The background is a little abraded in parts and there is some strengthening to the hair around the Virgin's head. The pigments of the wraparound drape, originally blue, are now blackened as is common. Sold with a gilt frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

"The first painting by his hand with which he started to earn a reputation was one of Our Lady’s Conception, life-size, with a glory of winged angels and seraphim, which the Marquis sent to Rome to his brother the Cardinal.

He was one of the illustrious artists who have brought honour to the Spanish nation with their brushes."  Antonio Palomino


Orphaned at the mere age of eleven, Antonio de Pereda was moved from his native town of Valladolid to Madrid where he would subsequently come into contact with some of the leading Madrileñan artists, including Juan Carreño de Miranda, Francisco Camilo and Jusepe Leonardo, whose work would have a strong imprint on his style. As recounted by the contemporary biographer Antonio Palomino, Pereda had the good fortune to be taken under the wing of Don Francisco Tejada, Judge of the Royal Council, who housed the young artist, encouraging him in the development of his prodigious artistic talent, and who introduced him to one of the leading patrons in Madrid, Don Juan Bautista Crescenzi, Marquis de La Torre. It was through Crescenzi that Pereda received one of his earliest commissions, as recounted by Palomino:1


‘The first painting by his hand with which he started to earn a reputation was one of Our Lady’s Conception, life-size, with a glory of winged angels and seraphim, which the Marquis sent to Rome to his brother the Cardinal.’1


As attested by the description, it seems highly likely that the painting referred to by Palomino, sent from Madrid to Cardinal Crescenzi in Rome, is identifiable with either the present, or one of the known variants of this particular composition by Pereda, which are: a painting in the Prado, signed and dated 1636, one signed and dated 1637 in the Church of Alcalá de Henares, the Philippines, another in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, and a painting formerly in the collection of Queen Isabella II of Spain, which was sold in these rooms on 10 July 2003, as lot 42, for £156,800 (see fig. 1).2


Each of the known variants reveals numerous changes in detail to the overall scene but can broadly be divided into two types: the Lyon painting and that sold in these rooms in 2003 (see fig. 1) are almost identical in composition and share in common the inclusion of the crescent moon and the dark spandrels to the upper corners that intensify the shaft of supernatural light shining down on the Virgin. In the present, the Prado and Alcalá de Henares versions these elements are omitted, the features of the Virgin are more softly modelled and there are a far greater number of cherubim within the upper half of the scenes.


Judging by the number of extant versions, the design of this altarpiece clearly proved highly successful for Pereda, no doubt in part due to the boldness and clarity of the composition, as well as the artist’s highly elegant style and exquisite use of two-tone colouring to the draperies of the Virgin and the angels, reflecting his interest in Venetian art that he would have known at first hand from the Spanish Royal Collections and which was so ardently promoted by the artist’s patron Don Juan Bautista Crescenzi.

1 See A. Palomino, Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors, translated by N.A. Mallory, Cambridge 1987, p. 205, under entry no. 127.

2 For the first three versions, see D. Angulo Iñiguez & A.E. Pérez Sánchez, Historia de la Pintura Española: Pintura Madrileña del segundo tercio del siglo XVII, Madrid 1983, p. 181, nos. 40, 37 & 41 respectively, reproduced plates 147 & 148.