Attributed to Alonso Cano

Attributed to Alonso Cano
Granada 1601–1667 Granada

Virgin of Mercy

Inscribed at lower left, Al°o C°o.

ca. 1667
Brown ink and wash, over black chalk

Purchased on the Fellows Fund with the special assistance of Mrs. James J. Rorimer, 1974

Item description: 

This drawing depicts the Virgin of Mercy in a trompe l'oeil architectural surround, with an eagle below. While its attribution to Cano, who was appointed architect to Granada Cathedral in 1667, has been questioned, the sheet may be connected to his design for the facade of the cathedral that served as the basis for the scheme realized after his death. The Virgin of Mercy, who shelters the faithful under her cloak, is relatively uncommon in seventeenth-century Spanish art outside of Catalonia. Nevertheless, the drawing may have been intended as a modello for one of the cathedral's sculpted reliefs.

About this exhibition: 

From the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, Spain witnessed the rise of the Catholic Church along with the flourishing of court artists who explored deeply spiritual visions. Concurrently, the nightmare of the Inquisition drove artists to probe the darker side of human nature through scenes of martyrdom and torture. Drawing played a central role in their conception of these diverse subjects—from Murillo's preparatory studies for painting commissions to Goya's private albums satirizing contemporary society. In addition to this rich tradition in Spain, Spanish artists also worked abroad, notably in Naples, which was a Spanish territory.

Visions and Nightmares marks the first exhibition of Spanish drawings at the Morgan, whose holdings in this area are small but significant. Showcasing over twenty sheets by Spanish artists spanning four centuries, this selection traces the shifting roles and attitudes toward the art of drawing in Spain.


This online exhibition was created in conjunction with the exhibition Visions and Nightmares: Four Centuries of Spanish Drawings, on view January 17 through May 11, 2014 and organized by Edward Payne, Moore Curatorial Fellow.

This exhibition is made possible by the A. Woodner Fund.