Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Alonzo Coello Sánchez

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 13
Alonzo Coello Sánchez

by George Charles Williamson


Born at Benyfayro, Valenciz, Spain, in 1513 or 1515; died at Madrid, 1590. His name Coello is certainly Portuguese, and was probably that of his mother. From his intimate conexion with Portugal, Philip II constantly referred to him as his "Portuguese Titian". We have no definite information that Sánchez was ever in Italy, but he certainly carefully copied the paintings of Titian under the influence of Sir Antonio Mor, who was his great master. In 1552 he accompanied him to Lisbon when Mor was sent by Charles V to paint the portraits of the royal family, and Sánchez then entered into the service of Don Juan of Portugal, who had married Joanna, the daughter of Charles and the sister of Philip II. On the death of the Infante Don Juan, his widow recommended her painter to her brother Philip, and as Mor had just left the Court and retired to Brussels, Philip II appointed Coello pintor de cámara. He was one of the earliest of the Spanish court portrait-painters, and as his work was in great demand he became a rich man. He painted Gregory XIII and Sixtus V, many of the grandees of Spain, Cardinal Farnese, and the Dukes of Florence and Savoy. He also executed considerable work at the Escorial and painted the triumphal arch erected at Madrid for the entry of Anne of Austria, wife of Philip II. Perhaps his most notable portrait, however, was that of St. Ignatius Loyola, executed from casts taken twenty-nine years before, and from instructions and sketches made by one of the fathers. His greatest portrait was that of his friend, Father Siguenza, which was engraved by Selma. He was buried at Valladolid, where he had founded a home for foundling children. His epitaph was written by López de Vega. Sánchez's colouring resembles that of Titian, and his portraits are powerful and lifelike. There is one in the National Portrait Gallery in London, another at Vienna, three at Brussels, and several at Madrid. One of the churches of that city also possesses a screen decorated by him and intended to be used during Holy Week. His pictures have always been highly esteemed in Spain, where they have sold for very large sums of money on the few occasions when they came into the market. Coello painted Philip II in almost every kind of costume, on foot and on horseback, and in many attitudes, but he is not generally considered to have been as successful with his royal patron as he was with some of the ecclesiastics, whose portraits he drew in noble proportions.

Pacheco, Arte de la pintura (Seville, 1649); Palomino de Castro y Velasco, El museo pictorico y escala optica (Madrid, 1715); Machado, Colleccao de memorias dos pintores (Lisbon, 1823); Stirling-Maxwell, Annals of the Artists of Spain (London, 1891); Hartley, Spanish Painting (London, 1904).

GEORGE CHARLES WILLIAMSON