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Juan de Borgoña
(active 1489 - c. 1536)

The Investiture of Saint Ildefonsus

c. 1508–14
Tempera and oil on wood
98 1/4 x 81 3/4 in. (249.6 x 207.6 cm)
Century: 16th Century
Credit Line: Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Algur H. Meadows Collection, MM.69.03
Accession Number: MM.69.03

More Information

Visual Description

This painting is approximately eight feet tall by six feet wide. The subject of this work is a ceremony showing a woman seated at center surrounded by attendants.  The woman (the Virgin Mary) is seated on a on an elaborate stone throne with an arched canopy. She is dressed in blue and wears a crown and golden halo. Behind the throne is a rectangular area covered in gold and signifying her importance. She looks down to her right as she places a gold vestment over a man who kneels before her with his head bowed and his hands held together in prayer. The man (Saint Ildefonsus) is seen in profile. He has a monk’s tonsure (haircut) and is dressed in a gold robe decorated with stylized floral patterns in red and black.
The woman and man are surrounded by attendants. Four attendants dressed in colorful garments stand to their right. One of them helps to cover the man with the golden vestment while another holds a Catholic Bishop’s mitre (hat). To the left of the enthroned woman stands a group of five other attendants. One attendant holds a sword pointed to the ground and another in front of her holds a palm branch (a symbol of martyrdom).   
The scene takes place in an architectural setting that opens to the outdoors. Stone columns with elaborate capitals support an octagonal roof over the group of figures, which all stand on a floor tiled with geometric patterns. The blue sky of the background appears between the columns and through an opening in the roof. The architectural elements employ geometric perspective, giving the illusion of spatial recession.


Capilla de San Ildefonso, Alcalá de Henares. Conde de Quinto, Madrid; De Landa/Wyllis, Palm Beach, Florida. Spencer Samuels [c. 1950s]. (French & Co., Inc., New York, c. 1958–1961). (Wildenstein & Co., New York); Algur H. Meadows; donated to Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, 1969.

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