St. Francis (?) Interceding with the Virgin on behalf of a Female Saint

Juan Martín Cabezaleroabout 1665–1670

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

This devotional drawing portrays an unidentified female saint experiencing a vision of a male saint, possibly Saint Francis, interceding between her and the Virgin Mary. The artist thoughtfully rendered facial expressions and garments such as the monk's robe and the Virgin Mary's mantle. The broken pen lines used for outlining, however, convey a sense of vagueness appropriate to the depiction of a spiritual vision. The execution of the hands, simply represented by three or four hulking fingers, further underscores the subject's ambiguity.

The purpose of the obscure figure in the upper right corner, who remarkably displays both musculature and skeletal features, is unknown. This part may be a preparatory study for a corner of a curved ceiling. The object held by the Virgin Mary, a second unknown feature of this drawing, might provide a clue to the identity of the female saint and the meaning of the vision. The monumental figures, the close-up composition, and the use of sepia wash were common to artists working in Madrid in the early 1600s.


  • Title: St. Francis (?) Interceding with the Virgin on behalf of a Female Saint
  • Creator: Juan Martín Cabezalero
  • Date Created: about 1665–1670
  • Physical Dimensions: 32.5 × 21.9 cm (12 13/16 × 8 5/8 in.)
  • Type: Drawing
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink, brown wash over black chalk
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 94.GA.97
  • Culture: Spanish
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Attributed to Juan Martín Cabezalero (Spanish, about 1633 - 1673)
  • Classification: Drawings (Visual Works)

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