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The balding, beak-nosed saint, adoring what appears to be the living body of Christ on the cross, would have been immediately recognizable to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Catholics as Saint Charles Borromeo (1538 –1584). As archbishop of Milan and a cardinal of the Catholic Church, Charles devoted himself to helping the poor and needy, and worked to reform the education and pious commitment of the clergy. Tiepolo had been brought to Spain to decorate the royal palaces and other buildings; the Aranjuez altarpieces were intended to be a major statement of the king’s patronage. The artist died in 1770, before all the altarpieces had been installed. For reasons that are unclear (but were probably political), all the rest of Tiepolo’s paintings had been removed from the church by 1776.

Details

  • Title: Saint Charles Borromeo
  • Creator: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, b.1696, d.1770)
  • Date Created: 1767 - 1769
  • Location Created: Madrid, Spain
  • Physical Dimensions: 48 1/2 x 44 1/8 in. (122.2 x 112 cm)
  • Credit Line: John J. Emery Fund
  • Accession Number: 1924.178
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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