Luis de Vargas
- Pintor español
nacido y muerto en Sevilla (1502-1568).
- Painter, b. at Seville,
in 1502; d. there in 1568. He has two claims upon our attention;
he was not only a great painter, but was also a man of strong
devotional temperament, and known as a holy man. His great desire
was to use his talent for the glory of God, and it was his habit
before painting one of his great altar-pieces to go to confession
and receive Holy Communion. It is also stated by one of his contemporaries
that he kept a coffin in his room to remind him of the approach
of death, and that one of his pictures, "Christ Bearing
the Cross", a fresco, painted in a street in Seville (known
as the Street of Bitterness, "La Calle de la Amargura"),
was so notable in the city that condemned criminals were brought
there on the way to the scene of execution in order to make their
devotions before it and to receive the last offices of the Church.
De Vargas lived a simple and almost hermit- like life; he was
quiet, mild, benevolent, disliked by many of the people of his
own rank, but worshipped by the poor, to whom he was extremely
He was trained in Seville, and the works of Campana greatly influenced
him. He first painted on the rough canvas curtains used to cover
up the pictures on the altars in Holy Week, but owing to the
generosity of a friend he was able to visit Italy. There, during
his stay of twenty-eight years, mainly spent in Rome, he closely
studied the works of Perino del Vaga, one of Raphael's favourite
pupils, and came into contact with Vasari. The first picture
he painted after his return is still in Seville Cathedral; it
is dated 1555, and in the records of the chapter it is said to
have been discovered by Bermudez. Of his fresco work very little
remains. His two greatest pictures represent the "Purification
of the Virgin" and the "Temporal Generation of Our
Lord," the latter being an allegorical composition showing
Adam and Eve adoring the Infant Christ, Who is in the arms of
the Virgin. This is the picture generally known as "La Gamba"
because of the wonderful foreshortening of the leg of Adam. The
Italian artist Perez de Alesio, when painting (1548) the giant
figure of St. Christopher on the southern portal of the cathedral,
exclaimed, that the whole of his figure was of less merit than
was the leg of Adam in the "Generation" by De Vargas.
De Vargas was one of the few Spanish artists who were really
eminent in draughtsmanship. He painted many portraits, but none
of them is of any special merit.
See the writings of BERMUDEZ on the Spanish artists, notably
the Carta (Cadiz, 1806), the Cathedral Guide (Seville, 1804),
and the Dictionary (6 vols., Madrid); MAXWELL, Annals of the
Artists of Spain; MADRAZO in Espana (1878); HARTLEY, Spanish
Painting (London, 1904), and various works on Murillo.
GEORGE CHARLES WILLIAMSON
Thomas M. Barrett
Dedicated to the
memory of Luis de Vargas
From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the
Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright ©
1997 by New Advent, Inc.