Diego Velasquez at the Gallerie d’Italia 

Velázquez. A great sign.

Another beautiful exhibition is being held at the Gallerie d’Italia in Naples entitled “Un segno grandioso” (A Great Sign).

From April 24 to July 14, 2024, the great Spanish artist Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) is on display with two youthful works, Immaculate Conception, and St. John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos. These extraordinary loans from London’s National Gallery could be an exhibition in themselves, especially under the subdued lighting of their setting.

Velasquez influence on Italian art 

Though the paintings on exhibit are done in chiaroscuro, they still reveal the supreme genius of this artist who left his mark on local artistic circles during his stays in Naples. It is clear from the two paintings displayed next to Velasquez’s works, the beautiful Immaculate Madonna by Giovanni Battista (Battistello) Caracciolo (Naples 1578 – 1635) and the Immaculate Conception by Paolo Finoglio (Naples 1593 – Conversano 1645).

The Sevillian painter visited the capital of the Spanish viceroyalty during both his visits to Italy. The first time was for study (and perhaps espionage for Spanish King Philip IV) and lasted from the summer of 1629 to early January 1631. The second, longer, stay was officially tied to his role as superintendent of the artworks of the royal residences and lasted from January 1649 to June 1651.

Iconography of sacred art

Regarding iconographic history, we know that the Spanish monarchy played a key role in promoting the cult of the Immaculate Conception, which also had political value and appears often in the figurative arts in all the territories influenced by the Habsburg crown. Yet, the idea that the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin only became Church dogma in 1854 thanks to Pope Pius I. Incidentally, the twelve stars on the European flag are nothing less than the crown of stars adorning the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Velásquez “A great sign” at the Gallerie d’Italia in Naples, two youthful masterpieces on loan from the National Gallery of London


Velásquez. A great sign.

Gallerie d’Italia

From April 24 to July 14, 2024