Luis Vélez

(documented from 1518 to 1575)

Adoration of the Magi

ca. 1559-1560

oil on board

127 x 61 cm

Inv. no. P00192

BBVA Collection Spain

This board was originally part of a now dismantled altarpiece that was commissioned to Luis Vélez on 21 March 1559 by Alejo de Medina, Regidor or Mayor of Medina del Campo, for the Chapel of the Descent in the Church of San Miguel of that town.

The altarpiece, of which there are two photographs dating from before 1943, the year when they were published by E. García Chico in his monograph on the Church of San Miguel, had a central relief with The Descent from the Cross and four lateral paintings: a Calvary and the Adoration of the Magi, on the right, and a Resurrection of the Lord and a Madonna with Child crowned with angels on the left. The whereabouts of the boards not belonging to the BBVA Collection is currently unknown.

While the portrait of the donor, Alejo de Medina, can be seen in the board of the Madonna with Child, his wife—María López de Mercado—is represented in the Adoration of the Magi. The altarpiece was probably completed in 1560, the year recorded on a cartouche in the relief work.

The mannerist style of the piece speaks of the influence of Alonso Berruguete while the elongated figures of the characters and their facial features as well as the rigid folds of the clothing are highly distinctive traits of Luis Vélez’s style.

Documented in Medina del Campo (Valladolid), from 1518 to 1575, the year of his death, Vélez created a number of paintings in the town, some of them for the San José Convent of the Discalced Carmelites, founded by St Teresa of Avila in 1567. Around that date he must have also been commissioned with the painting Our Lady of Mount Carmel Giving St Simon Stock his Scapular—created for the Monte Carmelo Chapel in the enclosed convent, where St Teresa liked to withdraw to pray—and another Resurrection. A third painting of St Dominic as Protector of the Order is currently kept at the Santa María la Real convent.

Vélez’s collaboration with the painter Jácome de Blancas and the sculptor Leonardo de Carrión in making altarpieces is well documented. Post has also attributed some boards in the altarpiece of the church of Tordehumos (Valladolid) to Vélez.