Juan Arias de Saavedra

oil painting of oval-framed portrait of man with mustache with angels on either side

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Juan Arias de Saavedra, 1650
Oil on canvas
53 1/8 × 38 5/8 in. (135 × 98 cm)
Collection Duchess of Cardona


Murillo’s earliest dated portrait, this newly discovered canvas depicts Juan Arias de Saavedra y Ramírez de Arellano (1621–1687), an aristocrat from Seville and a patron of the painter. Both the red cross on his left shoulder and the pendant with a scallop shell refer to his position as a knight in the Order of Santiago. The fictive stone frame includes the sitter’s coat of arms and two putti holding tablets. The one on the left records his age (twenty-nine), while the one on the right has the date on which the portrait was painted (1650). The lengthy Latin inscription below provides biographical information. Saavedra was a senior minister of the Holy Inquisition and is described in the inscription as a “profound connoisseur of the liberal arts, and of painting in particular.”

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