Design for a Processional Sculpture of the Vision of St. John on Patmos, with Five Variant Plans
Inscribed at lower left, D[on] fran.co de herrera; at upper left, herrera.
Purchased as the gift of Walter C. Baker, 1960
AN APOCALYPTIC VISION
This energetic drawing represents a plan for a processional float. Surrounded by clouds and flanked by an eagle, St. John the Evangelist ascends from an ornate basin to confront his vision of the Apocalyptic Virgin: clothed by the sun, standing on the moon, and crushing a multiheaded dragon. While in Rome, Herrera would have encountered Gianlorenzo Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa, whose Baroque dynamism may have inspired this design for an ephemeral sculpture. At the bottom of the sheet there are five small architectural cartouches representing aerial views of the sculpture's pedestal, with the artist's signature in the lower left cartouche.
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.