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Sixteenth CenturyJournal XXXVI/2 (2005)

Visualizing Devotion in Early Modern Seville: Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary
Tanyaj Tiffany University of Wisconsin-Milvaukee This essay offers a new reading of Diego Vel.izquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (1618) by relating it to religious discourse in the artist's native Seville.Through an analysis of previously unstudied Sevillian writings, this article argues that the painting's compositional structure entreats the beholder to use the corporeal register of the foreground as a means of entry into the spiritual register of the background scene.A consideration of contemporary discussions concerning the interrelation between the art of memory and devotion elucidates the function of Velizquez's picture-within-apicture as a mnemonic device that reminds the viewer to heed his or her duties to Christ, even amid life's toils. Establishing the nexus between text and image, these writings are treated not simply as sources forVel.izquez's work, but as tools for reconstructing the religious milieu to which the artist contributed.
THE CHRIST IN THE HoUSE OF MARTHA AND MARY (1618) is among the most enig-

matic of Diego Velizquez's Sevillian paintings (fig. 1). In the foreground, the artist has represented a genre scene depicting two rustic women, apparently painted from life. The young woman labors with a mortar and pestle, her weary expression suggesting the tedium of her toil. On the table next to her appear fish, eggs, garlic, and a pepper, the makings of a simple Lenten meal.-Both figures' contemporary dress relates them directly to the seventeenth-century beholder, an engagement reinforced through the young woman's outward gaze. In the right-hand corner of the painting,Velizquez has depicted Christ's visit to Martha and Mary within a framed scene. He has distinguished the biblical image from the somber kitchen in the foreground by rendering it with vivid tones, painterly brushstrokes, and a separate viewpoint. The interpretation of the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary has long eluded scholars. Although its date of 1618 situates the painting within Velizquez's early career in Seville, its provenance before the nineteenth century remains

Research for this article was supported by a Fulbright grant and a subvention from the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain's Ministry of Education and Culture and United States' Universities. An earlier version of this paper, entitled "El Cristo en casa y Marta y Maria de Velizquez: Una nueva lectura," was presented at the Symposium InternacionalVelizquez (Seville, 1999).



Sixteenth Century Journal XXXVI/2 (2005)

Figure 1. Diego Velizquez, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1618.

By permission of the National Gallery, London. unknown.1 The work is not mentioned in the two principal sources onVelzquez's life and oeuvre, the Arte de la Pintura (1649) by the artist's master, Francisco Pacheco, and the Museo Pictdrico (1715-24) by the artist and theorist Antonio Palomino. 2 In the painting itself,VelUzquez's equivocal depiction of space provides few clues regarding the relationship between the secular foreground and the sacred episode in the background.Art historians have therefore continually debated the identity of the foreground figures and their connection to the bibhcal personages.They have similarly disputed the nature of the framed religious scene, which has been identified alternatively as a painting, a window, or a nmirror reflection.
1The date was revealed when the painting was cleaned in 1964. See Neil MacLaren, The Spanish School, 2nd ed., revised by Allan Braham (London: National Gallery, 1970), 121. Jonathan Brown and 2 Richard L. Kagan,"The Duke ofAlcali: His Collection and Its Evolution,"Art Bulletin 69, no. (1987): 238, discuss a "lienco Pequefio de un [sic] coina donde esta majando unos ajos una muger" by Velizquez, listed in Alcala's 1632-36 inventory (ibid., 248-55).As they argue, the painting was probably not the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary,for no religious scene was mentioned.J. Miguel and Fernando Checa, El coleccionisino en EspaFa,Ensayos Arte Citedra (Madrid: Citedra, 1985), 302, note that a 1692 inventory from Madrid alludes to a bodeg6n representing Christ with Martha and Mary by the hand of a certain "Vquez," whom they consider to be Diego Vel.izquez. Having consulted the original document (Madrid, Archivo Hist6rico de Protocolos, protocolo 9887, afio 1692), I agree with Enriqueta Harris, who argues that the abbreviation "V.quez" probably refers to an artist namedV izquez, such as AlonsoVizquez. See Enriqueta Harris, exh. review of Spanish Still Life in the GoldenAge, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Burlington Magazine 127, no. 990 (1985): 644. The inventory explicitly men3 portrait by "Velizquez" on, for example, fol. 5 7v. tions a 2 Francisco Pacheco, Arte de la Pintura (1649), ed. Bonaventura Bassegoda i Hugas (Madrid: Citedra, 1990); Antonio Palomino, El Museo Pictdrico y escala dptica (1715-24), prologue by Juan A. Cein Berm6dez (Madrid: Aguilar, 1947). The third volume of Palomino's treatise-biographies of artistswas published as Antonio Palomino, Vidas, ed. Nina Ayala Mallory, Alianza Forma (Madrid: Alianza, 1986).

Tiffany / Veltizquezs "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


The Christ in the House of Martha and Mary has yet to be fully examined within its religious framework. Scholars have long discussed the image in terms of the active life of Martha and the contemplative life of Mary, but have not focused equally on the painting's relation to interpretations of the biblical story and religious practice in Seville. John Moffitt and others have noted the similarity between Velizquez's use of the picture-within-a-picture and the compositional schemes in the illustrations to the Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia (1595) by the Spanish Jesuit Jer6nimo Nadal. 3 Yet art historians have not extensively explored the ways in whichVelizquez adapted his visual and textual sources toward his own pictorial aims. This essay offers a new reading of the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by relating it to contemporary Sevillian exegesis and devotion. This interpretation entails a close analysis of writings byVel5zquez's master, Pacheco, and members of his Sevillian circle.Velizquez formed part of Pacheco's studio and household from 1610 until 1617 and married his master's daughter in 1618, the year he painted the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary.4 Groundbreaking work by Jonathan Brown and others has highlighted the central role played by Pacheco in Seville's erudite circles, and a glance at the references to local theologians, poets, and painters in the Arte de la Pintura suggests the vibrant exchange of ideas that occurred among Sevillian artists and men of letters. 5 Although scholars have acknowledged that Velizquez's training in this milieu provided him with a strong intellectual foundation, the extent of his participation in Sevillian artistic and religious 6 discourse remains to be understood. Through an analysis of previously unstudied writings by members of Pacheco's circle, this article will argue that the compositional structure of the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary entreats the beholder to use the corporeal register of the foreground as a means of entry into the spiritual register of the background scene. A consideration of contemporary discussions concerning the interrelation between the art of memory and devotion elucidates the function of Velizquez's picturewithin-a-picture as a mnemonic device that reminds the viewer to heed his or her
jer6ninio Nadal,Adnotationeset meditationes in Evangelia quae in sacrosancto Missae sacrfiicio toto anno leguntur (Antwerp: Martinus Nutios, 1595). See also John E Moffitt, "Francisco Pacheco and Jerome Nadal: New Light on the Flemish Sources of the Spanish 'Picture-within-the-Picture,'"Art Bulletin 72, no. 4 (1990): 631-38;Thomas L. Glen, "Velizquez's Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Martha and Mary: An Image Both 'Reflected' and to Be Reflected Upon," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 136, no. 1578/79 (2000): 21-30, esp. 27. 4Velaizquez's apprenticeship contract states that he entered Pacheco's studio in December 1610, but the contract was only signed in September 1611. For the contract, see Corpus velazqietio: Documentos y textos (Madrid: Ministerio de Educaci6n, Cultura y Deporte, Direcci6n General de Bellas Artes y Bienes Culturales, 2000), 1:28-29. 5See Jonathan Brown,"Theory and Art in the Academy of Francisco Pacheco," in hnages and Ideas in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Painting (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 21-83. See also Bassegoda i Hugas, introduction to Arte, by Pacheco, esp. 20-32. 6 Velizquez's role in this Sevillian milieu is the subject ofTanya J.Tiffany,"InterpretingVelizquez: Artistic Innovation and Painted Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Seville" (Ph.D. dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, 2003), and of the book I am writing onVelizquez's Sevillian works.


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duties to Christ, even amid life's toils. Establishing the nexus between text and image, these writings will be treated not simply as sources forVelizquez's work, but as tools for reconstructing the Sevillian religious discourse to which he gave visual form.

As scholars have long recognized,Vel;izquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary reflects his engagement with "inverted" religious compositions popularized by sixteenth-century Netherlandish painters. Pieter Aertsen, his student Joachim Beuckelaer, and other northern artists often placed contemporary images, replete with still-life elements, in the foregrounds of their paintings, while relegating the religious scenes to small spaces viewed through portals in the backgrounds. These images, such as Aertsen's Supper at Einmnaus, would have been familiar to Velizquez 7 through the popular prints by Jacob Matham. Aertsen himself painted three versions of the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary; in one of these, the foreground displays copious still-life elements and contemporary and religious figures, while a columned gateway in the background reveals the Gospel scene (1553; fig. 2).8 Scholars have shown that the biblical episode in the background of Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary depicts a passage from the Gospel of Luke, in which Christ stops to rest at the house of Lazarus's two sisters (Luke 10: 38-42).9 During Christ's stay, Martha assiduously prepares his meal, while Mary listens enraptured to his ministry. Irritated by her sister's apparent idleness, Martha begs Christ to admonish Mary to help with the housework. Christ responds that Martha has misunderstood her sister's conduct: "Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best 10 part, which shall not be taken away from her." Mary's contemplation of his preaching, he explains, is superior to Martha's attendance to his corporeal needs.
August L. Mayer, "Velizquez und die Niederlandischen Ki6chenstuicke," Kunstchronik und Kunstmarkt 30 (3 January 1919): 236-37, first related Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary and Supper at Emimnaus (ca. 1617, Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland) to Netherlandish precedents. See also Jonathan Brown, Veldzquez: Painterand Courtier(New Haven:Yale University Press, 1986), 16--21; Odile Delenda, Veltizquez: Peintre religieux, introduction by Jeannine Baticle (Geneva: Cerf/Tricorne, 1993), 28-31; David Davies and Enriqueta Harris, cat. no. 21 in Vel zquez in Seville, ed. Michael Clarke, exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1996, 132. Matham's Supper at Ennnaus is reproduced in Walter L. Strauss, .NetherlandishArtists: Mathamn, Saenredain, Muller, The Illustrated Bartsch (New York: Abaris Books, 1980), 4:150 (formerly vol. 3, pt. 2). 80n foreground and background in this work, see esp. M. A. Meadow, "Aertsen's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, Serlio's Architecture and the Meaning of Location," in Rhetoric-Rh6toriqueursRederykers: Proceedings of tie Colloquium, Ansterdamn, 10-13 November 1993, ed. Jelle Koopinans et al. (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1995), 175-96. On Sevillian artists' imitation of these works, see Peter Cherry, Arte y Naturaleza: El Bodeq6n Espahol en el Siglo de Oro, trans. Ivars Barzdevics (Madrid: Doce Calles, 1999), 121-25. 9 See, for example, Brown, Velhzquez, 16; Delenda, Veldzquez, 27-28; Davies and Harris, cat. no. 21 in Velizquez ill Seville, 132. 10 Luke 10:41-42 (DouayVersion).


Tiffany / VelWzquez`s "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


Figure 2. Pieter Aertsen, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1553. By permission of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artists emphasized the traditional association of Martha and Mary with the active and contemplative lives. In Aertsen's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary in Rotterdam, as in other northern depictions of the theme, the artist compares the active and contemplative lives of the respective sisters by representing Mary at Christ's feet, heeding his ministry, while Martha stands above the Lord, reprimanding her sister.11 Aertsen further figures the active life in the foreground by crowding the kitchen scene with both biblical and contemporary personages, who are surrounded by an array of fruits, game, and other foods. In his Christ in the House of Martha and Mary,Velizquez similarly distinguishes between the action and contemplation of the two sisters. His background image depicts Mary seated, her head raised toward Christ in captivated attention.12 Velizquez has followed the tradition of conflating Mary with the Magdalen by representing her with flowing blond hair. Martha, in turn, stands behind her sister and holds out her hand in supplication to the Lord. To the left, Christ gazes at Martha and silences her with his hand gesture, illustrating the final moment of the biblical episode. Because Velizquez, in this background scene, has followed Netherlandish models in depicting Christ's privileging of Mary's attentiveness over Martha's labor,
'See esp. Meadow, "Aertsen's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary," 175-95. As argued in Leo Steinberg, review of Velhzquez:A Catalogue Raisonne of His Oeuvre, with an Introductory Study by Jos6 L6pez-Rey, Art Bulletin 47, no. 2 (1965): 289, Mary's pose is modeled on the figure in Dbrer's Melancholia I.
12 1


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the entire painting has been interpreted as a valorization of Mary's contemplation 13 at the expense of Martha's action. A careful analysis of Vel;izquez's composition and style nonetheless demands a more complex reading. In the Christ in the House of Martha and MaryVelizquez has literally foregrounded the kitchen scene, emphasizing the domain of the active life by placing it almost within the viewer's space. While northern paintings such as Aertsen's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary call the viewer's attention away from the background by depicting a profusion of still-life elements,Velizquez has accomplished this with only a few objects and two figures, rendered with striking realism. He has lavished his technical virtuosity on the still-life elements, using a dark palette and heavily laden brushstrokes that impart an almost material quality to the objects. Thick layers of gray paint dabbed with touches of white read as shiny, scaly fish, while impasted strokes of ocher create the illusion of a matte surface on the lower half of the jug. This materiality stands in stark contrast to the background scene, in which the biblical figures are rendered with loose, painterly strokes and strident colors. 14 YetVelizquez has also encouraged the viewer to relate the ostensibly secular kitchen scene to the religious episode by placing the fish, a 15 familiar symbol of Christ, directly beneath the figure of the Lord. Although Velzquez's foreground figures do not depict Martha and Mary, as is sometimes argued, they emphasize the type of work epitomized by Martha. 1 6 The young woman toiling with the mortar and pestle is the most prominent figure in the painting, and her activity is emphasized through the old woman's pointing gesture.17Velizquez has further related the contemporary and biblical scenes by creating visual analogues between the foreground and background figures. The old woman's white veil and her young companion's ocher doublet find echoes in Martha's white headdress and brown tunic. Similarly, the bent arms and raised hands of
U See Brown, Vel,zquez, 21; Delenda, Vel6zquez, 28; Manuela B. Mena Marqu6s, cat. no. 83 in Vehizquez y Sevilla, Catuilogo, ed. Alfredo J. Morales, exh. cat., Santa Maria de las Cuevas, Salas del Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporineo, Seville, 1999, 180. On similar interpretive problems regarding Aertsen's "inverted" versions of the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, see Meadow, "Aertsen's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary," 175-96; Cherry, Arte y Naturaleza,121-24. 14 Norman Bryson, Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), 155, stresses the difference between the "loose, free brushstrokes" of the biblical scene and the "solid, tangible matter" depicted in the foreground of Velizquez's Supper at Emmnaus. In works such as the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary in Rotterdam, Aertsen used color to distinguish between the foreground and background scenes. OnVelizquez's appropriation of the stylistic qualities of northern "inverted" paintings, see Cherry, Arte y naturaleza, 122. 5 1 John F Moffitt, "'Terebat in mortario': Symbolism in Velasquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary,"Arte cristiana 72, no. 700 (1984): 16, notes that the fish represent Christ. 6 1 For atterpts to equate one or both of the foreground women with the biblical personages, see, for example, Moffitt, "Francisco Pacheco," 634;Julifn Gfillego, Velhzquez en Sevilla, 2nd ed. (Seville: Excma. Diputaci6n Provincial, 1994), 136. Marta Cacho Casal,"The Old Woman in Vel.izquez's Kitchen Scene with C/rist's Visit to Marlha and Mary,"Journalof the Warburg and CourtauldInstitutes 63 (2000): 295302, argues that the old woman is Martha's maid. 17 0n the old woman's emphatic gesture, see MacLaren, Spanish School, 122; Leslie Anne Nelson, "Velizquez's 'Bodegones a lo divino' and the Spanish Theatre of the Golden Age" (Ph.D. dissertation, Bryn Mawr College, 1996), 96.

Tiffany / VelMzquez's "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


both foreground figures mirror Martha's gesture of complaint.1 8 By establishing these visual parallels,Velizquez has entreated the viewer to consider the correlation between the contemporary and biblical personages, connecting foreground and background, quotidian present and biblical history. Only a careful examination of the work reveals thatVelizquez has differentiated the two sets of figures and established a deliberately equivocal relationship between the foreground and background scenes.

Velizquez's emphasis on the act of cooking provides a pictorial counterpart to exegetical praise of Martha, who was extolled for her place as the Lord's servant. In Seville, the importance of Martha's attendance to Christ was reflected in the activities of the Hospital de Santa Marta, the principal function of which was feeding the poor. Founded in the fourteenth century and administered by the cathedral, the hospital was considered sufficiently important to survive the massive reduction of hospitals in the city in the late sixteenth century.19 In the years around 1618, when Velizquez painted the Christ in the House of iarthaand Mary, the Hospital de Santa Marta paid two women to feed impoverished men, mostly retired and ailing clerics, who came daily to receive a ration. 20 The hospital's inventories have not been discovered, making it impossible to ascertain whether Velizquez's painting may have been directly linked to the institution.This emphasis on Martha as a saint praised for her hospitality toward Christ nonetheless helps to establish the Sevillian context of Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary,which emphasizes the toils of the kitchen. A sermon by the Augustinian friar Pedro deValderrama (1550-1611) glorifies
both Martha and Mary, thus elucidating the symbolic importance of both sisters in

Velizquez's milieu.Valderrama is especially significant for this discussion because he was one of Seville's most renowned preachers and formed an integral part of Pacheco's intellectual circle, as explained by the artist himself in the Libro de Retratos (Book of portraits), the most important source on the Augustinian's life. 2 1 In a
18Victor I. Stoichita, 7"he Self-Aware Image:An Insight into Early Modern Meta-Painting, trans. AnneMarie Glasheen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 10-16, suggests that the figures' gescures help to bind foreground and background. 19 0n the hospital, see Francisco Collantes de Terin y Delorme, Los establecinientos de caridad de Sevilla (1884 and 1886; repr. of both eds., Seville: Colegio Oficial de Aparejadores y Arquitectos T&nicos, 1980), 197-236 in repr. of 1886 ed.;Juan Ignacio Carmona Garcia, El sistenla de hospitalidad p iblica en la Sevilla del Antiguo R4ginien (Seville: Excma. Diputaci6n Provincial, 1979), passim. 20See the hospital's expenditure records from 1617 until 1619 in Archivo de ]a Catedral de Sevilla, secci6n V, libros 138-40. The hospital displayed at least one work of art, as described in a late seventeenth-century text:Joseph Arias de S. Pedro, "Pintura, de un caso Memorable, Que esti en el Arquillo de S. Marta,' in Los establecitnientos de caridad,218-20. 21Francisco Pacheco, Libro de descripci6n de verdaderos retratos de ilustres y tnernorables varones, ed. Pedro M. Pifiero Ramirez and Rogelio Keyes Cano (Seville: Excma. Diputaci6n Provincial, 1985), 111-14. Pacheco's treatise is undated and remained unpublished until the nineteenth century; ibid., 15-49. The other important source onValderrama is Francisco de Luque Faxardo, Razonainiento Grave y Devoto, Que hizo el Padre M. F Pedro de Valderrania...: Con mas un breve Elogio de su vida y predicacion (Seville: Luis


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sermon dedicated to Saint Bruno, Valderrama uses the story of Martha and Mary to demonstrate that Bruno and the Carthusian order he founded embody the perfect union of action and contemplation. 22 Praising the saint's dedication to helping the poor,Valderrama compares the Carthusians' activities to Martha's hospitality to Christ, reflecting the post-Tridentine emphasis on the importance of good works. 23 "Let the life of Martha shine," he exclaims, while extolling the order's 24 commitment to the "charity with which they house such a multitude of guests." Although others ignore Martha's "good example," Bruno's order carries on her tradition by attending to those in need. 2 5 Of course,Valderrama explains that Bruno and the Carthusians exemplify not only the "active life," but also the "contemplative life" as demonstrated through their practice of cloistered meditation. 26 Valderrama lauds the order for upholding the founder's mission by continually joining the two lives: "Mary's life, which is to sit at Christ's feet, and Martha's life, which is to be anxious and concerned about the sustenance and alms of the poor. And that both these lives shine eminently in this holy Religion, one sees very clearly....'27 Valderrama then declares that God rewards the Carthusians for uniting action and contemplation and exhorts his readers to follow their lofty example. The religious significance of Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary is further illuminated by a little-known Tratado de las tres vidas, activa, contemplativa y inixta (Treatise on the three lives, active, contemplative, and mixed), which 28 characterizes Martha's labor as a means of approaching Mary's contemplation.
Estupifian, 1612). See also Andr&s Soria, "La predicaci6n de Pedro de Valderrania," Revista de literatura 46, no. 92 (1984): 19-55; Hilary Dansey Smith, Preaching in the Spanish Golden Age:A Study of Sonie Preachers of the Reign of Philip III (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), esp. 56-58, 65-66, 132-34. 22 Pedro deValderrama, Sernuin en la Fiesta delglorioso Patriarcasan Bruno: Fundador de la Orden de la Cartuja, in Teatro de las Religiones (Seville: Convento de San Agustin, 1612), 524-46.Valderrama explicitly refers to Bruno as "san Bruno," although he was never officially canonized. Bruno's cult was sanctioned for the Carthusians in 1514 and for the church as a whole in 1623. 23Manuel PNrez Lozano, "Fuentes y significado del cuadro 'Cristo en casa de Marta' de Diego Velizquez," Cuadernos deArte e Iconografia 3 (1990): 55-64; idem,"Velizquez, en el entorno de Pacheco: Las primeras obras' Ars Longa 2 (1991): 89-102, esp. 95-100, also argues that Vehlzquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary emphasizes both the active and contemplative lives. Glen, "Velizquez's Kitchen Scene," 21-30, further discusses the painting in terms of the importance of the active life and good works as promoted in Seville. According to Xanthe Brooke and Peter Cherry, Murillo: Scenes of Childhood, exh. cat., Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2001), 80, a lecture presented in 1999 by Terence O'Reilly similarly related Velizquez's painting to Jesuit texts on the union of mundane labor and religious contemplation. 24 Valderrama, Sermdn, 545: "Pues que resplandezca ... la vida de Marta"; "caridad con que ospeda[n] tanta multicud de guespedes."Translations are mine unless otherwise indicated. Spanish quonations are faithful to the orthography used in the works cited. 25Valderrama, Sertn6n, 546: "buen exemplo." 26 Valderrama, Sernnin, 544: "vida activa'; "vida contemplativa." 27 Valderrama, Sertndn, 544.The passage reads: "Y bien se echa de ver en lo que dex6 en su sagrada Religio[n], en Ia qual se guardan estas dos vidas con suma puntualidad: la vida de Maria, que es estar sentada a los pies de Christo, y la vida de Marta, que es andar solicita y cuydosa del sustento y limosna del pobre.Y que estas dos vidas resplandezcan con eminencia en esta sagrada Religion, vese muy claratrente....' 28Antonio Cordeses, Tratado de las tres vidas, activa, conteniplativa y inixta, in Obras espirimales:GUia te6rico-pricticade la perfeccidn cristiana, ed. with a prologue by A.Yanguas (Madrid: Consejo Superior de

Tiffany / Veljzquezs "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


The treatise was written by the Jesuit Antonio Cordeses (1518-1601), who during the last ten years of his life served as provost in Seville's Casa Profesa, where he doubtless became acquainted with Pacheco's friends in the Society of Jesus. 29 In the Tratado, Cordeses uses the ascent from the active life of Martha to the contemplative life of Mary as a metaphor for Saint Ignatius's concept of the soul's journey toward union with God. Cordeses explains that the active life, linked to the sensory world of "extrinsic material," is the lowest of the three lives discussed in the tract. 30 Yet "the active life, if exercised with perfection, is of great excellence, and thus it was represented in Scripture by the holy woman Martha, who hosted Christ."3 1 The active life, occupied with good works pertaining to the material world, is therefore important and "is necessary for the provision and preparation for the contemplative life."32 Indeed, there is a direct relationship between the toil of the active life and the success achieved in the contemplative life, for "the more a man has walked in Martha's life, the more he will be prepared for Mary's path; because of this the saints have said that the active life must precede the 33 contemplative." With regard to Velizquez's painting, it is significant that Cordeses favors the vida inixta, combining action and contemplation, over the purely contemplative life. The vida mixta is "very noble" (nobilissima) and serves as the culmination of Cordeses's tract, encompassing the perfections of both Martha and Mary. In keeping with the Jesuit missionary vocation, Cordeses argues that the vida inixta is necessary to all those who wish to imitate the apostles in spreading the word of God. Not surprisingly, Cordeses argues that whoever aspires to the vida inixta need always remember that the contemplative life is the superior aspect of this combined way of living, for it is described by Christ as the "best part." 34 Yet he who seeks the
Investigaciones Cientificas, Instituto "Francisco Suirez," 1953), 1-43. The two manuscript versions of the treatise are London, Brit. Mus. Add. MS 20915, fols. 206-15; BCC (Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina, Seville) MS 84-2-8, fols. 1-50.The manuscripts are written in distinct hands and their texts differ. For this article, I have usedYanguas's edition, which is a publication of the London manuscript. On the Tratado and its date (before 1573), seeYanguas, prologue to Cordeses, Tratado, v-xxxvi. See also Paul Dudon, "Les id&es du P. Antonio Cordeses sur l'Oraison, I," Revue d'asc&ique et de inystique 12 (1931): 97-115; idem, "Les id6es du P Antonio Cordeses sur l'Oraison, II," Revue d'ascetique et de mystique 13 (1932): 17-33. Delenda, Velhzquez, 28, mentions the Tratado in the context ofVelizquez's Christ in the House29 of Martha and M,1ary, but does not develop her argument. 0n Pacheco's connections to the Jesuits, see Alfonso Rodriguez G. de Ceballos, introduction to hndgenes de to historia evatnqglica, by Jer6nimo Nadal (Barcelona: Ediciones El Albir, 1975), 7-15; Bonaventura Bassegoda i Hugas, "Observaciones sobre El Arte de la Pintura de Francisco Pacheco como tratado de Iconografia," CuadernosdeArtee Iconografia 3 (1989):185-96, esp. 191-94. 30 Cordeses, Tratado, 3:"materia extrinseca." 31Cordeses, Tratado, 7: "La vida activa, si es exercitada con perfecci6n, es de grande excellentia, y assi fue figurada en la Scriptura por la santa niujer Martha, que hosped6 a Cristo." 32 Cordeses, Tratado, 13: "es necessaria para dispositi6n y aparejo de la vida contemplativa." Cordeses cites Gregory the Great as an authority on using the active life to lead to the contemplative life. 33 Cordeses, Tratado, 31: "tanto estari el hombre mias aparexado para la via de Maria, quanto mis carnino huviere andado en la vida de Martha, ca por esto han dicho los Santos que la vida activa ha de preceder a la contemplativa." 34 Cordeses, Tratado, 37, 38, 41.


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vida mixta must always adhere to his duties pertaining to the active life, "without abandoning ... the obligation of his status or institution ... and without notably 35 neglecting charity to others." Both Valderrama's glorification of Martha's role as Christ's servant and Cordeses's notion of using the active life in order to achieve the contemplative life help to elucidate the exegetical context of Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary. Like Valderrama,Velizquez valorizes the active life through the prominent kitchen scene in the foreground. With the illustration of the biblical episode in which Christ assures Martha that Mary "hath chosen the best part," the artist nonetheless suggests that the active life is only one aspect of the ideal Christian. The presence of the Lenten still life in the foreground scene also emphasizes the need to join the sacred and the secular by reminding the viewer to 36 honor Christ by heeding the spiritual life even while nourishing the body. In the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary,Velizquez has furthermore thematized Cordeses's exhortation to use Martha's life as a stage in the pursuit of Mary's. He has made the religious scene accessible only by means of the image of the active life in the foreground, entreating the viewer to take in the contemporary scene and its still-life elements before reaching the small biblical episode in the right-hand corner. When considered in concert with Cordeses's text, this compositional structure seems to suggest that the toils of the melancholy cook in the painting's foreground will lead to a higher spiritual reward.


The vividness of Velizquez's framed religious scene and its function as a reminder to join action and contemplation relate to contemporary mnemonic techniques, which encouraged practitioners to remember concepts and objects by placing striking mental images in the settings of places such as streets, buildings, or individual rooms. Using this art of memory to create mental pictures was central to Catholic devotional methods. For example, in Saint Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises (1548), the composition of place involves employing the memory (which is equated with the imagination) to conjure up vivid images of our past sins and the example of Christ's life. This technique was based on the mnemonics outlined in classical rhetorical manuals such as the anonymous Ad Herenniuin, which advocated memorizing series of objects through the formation and arrangement of striking mental

Cordeses, Tratado, 38:"sin derogar ... a la obhigaci6n de su estado o instituto ... y sin faltar notablemente a la charidad del pr6ximo." 36 Cherry, Arte y Naturaleza, 123, has stated that the meal being prepared is "una comida de abstinencia, adecuada para la escena religiosa." Martin Soria used a passage from the writings of St.Teresa to elucidate the ways in which Velizquez's painting emphasizes the close relationship between the mundane and the spiritual:"Cuando ... empleadas en cosas exteriores, entended, que si es en la cocina entre los pucheros anda el Seiior, ayudindoos en lo interior y exterior." Teresa ofAvila, Libro de Fundaciones, chap. 5, v. 7; quoted (without further reference) in Martin S. Soria, "An Unknown Early Painting by Velizquez," Burlington Magazine 91, no. 554 (1949): 127.


Tiffany / VelMzquez's "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


pictures. 37 In part because of its relevance to devotion, the Ad Herennium was widely read in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and became one of the prin38 cipal rhetorical manuals used in Jesuit schools. The importance of these mnemonic techniques in Velizquez's circle is suggested through an analysis of the "Tratado de la memoria artificiosa" (Treatise on artificial memory), a manuscript in Seville that, to my knowledge, has never been discussed by scholars. 39 The "Tratado" is an abbreviated translation of the discussion of memory in the Ad Herennium, reflecting contemporaries' particular interest in that section of the text. As indicated in the manuscript, the treatise was translated by Juan Bautista SuArez de Salazar (d. 1644), a cathedral canon of the Andalusian city of Cadiz, who had close connections to the Jesuits and maintained a friendship and correspondence with Velizquez's early patron, the Sevillian Juan de Fonseca y Figueroa. 40 The "Tratado" is thus particularly relevant to our discussion of Velizquez's painting, and Suirez de Salazar's translation may reflect the ways in which the young artist's associates understood the classical text. Without suggesting thatVelizquez used the "Tratado" as a direct source, I would like to examine how the text sheds light on his engagement with the art of memory. The "Tratado" advocates creating mental arrangements of "places" and "images," and in so doing keys into the mnemonic role of pictures-within-

For a general discussion of the Ad Herennium (ca. 86-82 BcE), see Henry Caplan, introduction to Ad Herennium, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), vii-xl.The section on memory appears in Ad Herennium 3.16.28-24.40. On the memory section and its subsequent influence, see Frances A.Yates, The Art ofAilemory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), esp. 126, 86-91; Mary Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 122-55 and passim; idem, The Craft ofThought: Aeditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), esp. 9-10, 36-37, 81, 99, 236-37; Lina Bolzoni, The Gallery of Memory: Literary and Iconqoraphic Models in the Age of the PrintingPress, trans.Jeremy Parzen (Toronto: University ofToronto Press, 2001), passim. 38 On the importance of the Ad Herennium for Ignatius and other Spanish Jesuits, see Fernando R. de la Flor, Teatro de la memoria: Siete ensayos sobre mnemotecnia espahola de los siglos XVII y XV/711, 2nd ed. (Salamanca:Junta de Castilla y Le6n, 1996), 83-85,120-22;Jos6 Rico Verd6, La ret6rica espanola de los siglos XVI y XVII (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1973), 59-60. For concise discussions ofJesuit education, see John O'Malley, "The Schools," chap. 6 in The FirstJesuits (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 200-242; Francesco C. Cesareo, "The Collegium Germanicum and the Ignatian Vision of Education," Sixteenth Centuryjournal 24 (1993): 829-41. 39juan Bautista Suirez de Salazar,"Tratado de la memoria artificiosa," BCC MS 57-3-24 (sig. antigua 83-3-19), fols. 363r-66r. The treatise is undated. Nicolis Maria Cambiaso yVerdes, Memorias para la biografia y para la bibliqirafla de a isla de Cddiz, rev. ed., ed. Ram6n Corzo Sinchez and Margarita Toscana San Gil (Cadiz: Caja de Ahorros, 1986), 194, lists the "Tratado" in an inventory of Suirez de Salazar's works, but does not discuss the treatise or its contents. 40 Suirez de Salazars testament reveals that upon his death he bequeathed all, or most of, his personal library to Cadiz's Jesuit school. See Cambiaso yVerdes, Menjorias, 193; Pablo Ant6n Sol&,"Bibliotecas y bibli6filos gaditanos," Archivo Hispalense 57, no. 176 (1974): 46-47. Suirez de Salazar's bestknown work is the Grandezasy antigiiedades de la isla y ciudad de Ctdiz (Cadiz: Clemente Hidalgo, 1610). Fragments of the correspondence between Suirez de Salazar and Fonseca y Figueroa survive in the manuscript volume that contains the "Tratado." On Fonseca y Figueroa's relationship toVelizquez, see Jose L6pez Navio, "Velizquez tasa los cuadros de su protector D. Juan de Fonseca," Archivo Espanol de Arte 34 (1961): 53-84.



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pictures. 4 1 The places are the backgrounds against which the images to be recalled are stored; they are "like the paper" used for writing, while "the images" function like "the letters" that fill the page. 42 In contrast to the Latin text of the Ad Herennium, the "Tratado" stresses the importance of populating these pictures with familiar faces that "we could easily remember." 43 Elaborating on the classical author's precepts, Sufirez de Salazar uses common names as a mechanism for remembering a murder by poison. He thus exhorts the reader to imagine that "Pedro would say that Francisco was killed with poison by Antonio, who did it in order to win his inheritance.' 44 Although Suirez de Salazar follows the Latin text in stating that the images should not represent ordinary events (for they are more difficult to recall), by giving each of the personages a familiar name he emphasizes the relative facility of remembering subjects related to people we see every day. In the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary;Velizquez has created a kitchen scene that functions as a place for a memory image. 45 The framed biblical episode located within that place thus becomes an image the viewer is exhorted to rernember.Velizquez's depiction of ordinary, humble models in the foreground provides an analogue to Suirez de Salazar's recommendation to use people we know to aid the memory, and both figures seem to be individuals-like Pedro, Francisco, or Antonio-whom we could encounter in seventeenth-century Seville. In fact, the elderly woman surely was a contemporary Sevillian, for she also served as the model forVelizquez's Old Wornan Cooking.46 In the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary,Velizquez's representation of a common kitchen scene departs from the treatise's admonition to avoid picturing everyday occurrences, but the image located within that place corresponds to the text by inciting the beholder to remember the extraordinary event of Christ's visit to Martha and Mary. By constructing the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary as a memory picture,Velizquez has beautifully illustrated the significance of the passage from the Gospel of Luke, in which Christ's teachings miraculously transfix Mary, even within the ordinary surroundings of the sisters' household.

41Suirez de Salazar, "Tratado," fol. 363v: "Consta pues la memoria artificiosa de lugares y de imagines?" 42 Suirez de Salazar, "Tratado," fol. 363v: "los lugares son semejantes al papel, las imagines a las y la disposicion y aciento de las imagines al discurso de la escriptura...." letras, 43 Suirez de Salazar, "Tratado," fol. 364v. The author exhorts the reader to imagine "una persona de la qual facilm[en]te nos podriamos acordar." 44Suirez de Salazar, "Tratado," fol. 364v. Suirez de Salazar encourages the reader to conjure up "unas imagines del mismo negocio como si Pfedr]o dijere q[ue] Fran[cis]co fue muerto con veneno de que lo hiso por eredalle." Ant[oni]o 45 Nelson, "Velizquez's 'Bodegones a lo divino," esp. 106-26, associates Velizquez's use of pictures-within-pictures with mnemonics and emphasizes the interconnectedness of the art of memory devotion. My description of the painting as a memory image depends on Nelson's work. and Jesuit 46 01d Woman Cooking (1618, National Gallery of Scotland).Velizquez's use of the same model for the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary and the Old Woman Cooking has been noted, for example, by Brown, Velizquez, 17. OnVelizquez's practice of working from life, see Pacheco,Arte, 443.

Tiffany / Veldzq,uez's "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"



The use of vivid images as mnemonics to devotion is exemplified in the Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia (Annotations and meditations on the Gospels; 1595) by the Jesuit Jer6nimo Nadal, a work that provided an important model for Velizquez's representation of a biblical scene as a memory painting.47 Published at Ignatius's request, the Adnotationes et meditationes gives pictorial form to his imagined composition of place.The treatise combines Nadal's text and lavish Flemish engravings, which were executed mainly by the Wierix shop in Antwerp after designs by Bernardo Passeri. Using pictures-within-pictures to represent various moments in each of the Gospel episodes depicted, the engravings function in concert with the text to aid the reader in meditation. For example, the Magdalen Anoints Christ's Feet (fig. 3) comprises a large foreground scene that depicts the Magdalen washing and anointing Christ's feet at the Pharisee's feast, while the background contains related episodes, and a framed roundel illustrates the parable of the two debtors, which Christ explains to the figures in the foreground scene. At the bottom of the page, letters corresponding to each episode are followed by inscriptions that succinctly describe the events depicted and guide the beholder's study of the image. The Adnotationes et meditationes provides a compelling devotional model for Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary.As scholarship has shown, the engravings were appropriated by artists throughout Catholic Europe as ideal and 48 decorous sources for religious paintings. Pacheco continually cites Nadal in the Arte de la Pintura,and explicitly recommends the engravings as pictorial sources for 49 sacred images including the Visitation, Nativity, and Adoration of the Magi. John Moffitt has demonstrated that the compositional technique of the picture-withina-picture used in many of the images also provided a source for Pacheco's Saint fig. 4), painted two years before Velizquez's Sebastian Attended by Saint Irene (1616; 50 Mary. and Martha of House the in Christ A careful examination of Pacheco's Saint Sebastian Attended by Saint Irene in conjunction withVelizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary reveals the different ways in which master and former pupil engaged with the engravings of the
As translated in Jer6nimo Nadal, Annotations and Xleditations on the Gospels, vol. 1, The Infancy Narratives, trans. Frederick A. Homann, with an introduction by Walter S. Melion (Philadelphia: Saint University Press, 2003). Joseph's 48 In addition to the works on Nadal cited elsewhere in this article, see in particular: Thomas Buser,"Jerome Nadal and Early jesuitArt in Rome,"Art Bulletin 58, no. 3 (1976): 424-33; David Freedberg,"A Source for Rubens's Modello of the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin:A Case Study in the Response to Images," Burlington Ma.azine 120, no. 904 (1978): 432-41; idem, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 181-83; Marc Fumaroli, L'dge de lYloquence: RhUtorique et "res literaria" de la Renaissance an seuil de lPpoque classique (Geneva: Droz, 1980), 258-60;Walter S. Melion, "Pictorial Artifice and Catholic Devotion in Abraham Bloemaert's Virgin of Sorrows with the Holy Face ofc. 1615," in The Holy Face and the Paradox of Representation: Papersfrom a Colloquiumn Held at the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome and the Villa Spelnian, Florence, ed. Herbert L. Kessler and Gerhard Wolf (Bologna: Nuova Alfa, 1998), esp. 333-40. 1996, 49 0n these three subjects, see Pacheco, Arte, 596-99,602-8, 612-17, respectively. 50 Moffitt, "Francisco Pacheco," 631-38.


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V. POST. DOM. PASSIONIS "tUngit pedes jE s v a ena Luc. 1ji .Amw xxxt.



A. Qr&vmmW, t~~zIA'jfaj2 mmwmnzuw. B. I'krzmj, Awc vijew. z4yfirr. B. R*VqteAm3'(.-ru, -rZSVM, rt m=nd=t- F. Rjelmkmt be.'jn sli ZSF&Sjmrya' fe- . mbdvrnl= Jkltomln. C, mnt~a,Ess&4fc' G, Pwri ad ?nenfnm5rAntr,. ddenter D. xvdaie=Lrj-ptH.r&xnxzSY Lnt. rjnjDGtwvqt m I xir ym u bob cym a scrnitw.

Figure 3. Anton Wierix, Magdalen Anoints Christ's Feet, in Jer6nimo Nadal, Adnotationes et MVeditationes (1595), p1. 34. Photo: Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins University, by permission.

Tiffany / VeWizquez's "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


Figure 4. Francisco Pacheco, Saint Sebastian Attended by Saint Irene, 1616, destroyed, formerly Alca]5 de Guadaira. Photo: Institut Amatfler d'Art Hispanic, by permission.


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Adnotationes et nieditationes.This comparison is especially apt because Velizquez was still an apprentice in Pacheco's studio when the Saint Sebastian was painted, and the seventeen-year-old artist may even have collaborated on aspects of the work.51 Whether or not Velizquez had a hand in Pacheco's painting, the compositional scheme of the Saint Sebastian provided an important and immediate source for the picture-within-a-picture in the Christ in the House of Martha and MVlary. By depicting framed images, both works appropriate the kinds of pictures-within-pictures used in the Adnotationes et meditationes, in which frames as well as the lettered captions incite the beholder to meditate separately on each scene illustrated. 52 This represents a departure from the precedents of Aertsen and his followers, in which the background episodes are usually continuous with the foreground action. 53 Like the kitchen in the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, the foreground of the Saint Sebastian resembles a seventeenth-century domestic interior.The scene, in fact, depicts Saint Irene nursing Saint Sebastian to health, while a window in the background reveals Diocletian's soldiers shooting the martyr with arrows. In the Arte de la Pintura,Pacheco provides a detailed description of the work: In the middle of the picture, in a bed, was painted Saint Sebastian at about forty years old, seated with a bowl and a spoonful of rose syrup, and standing, attending to him, that holy widow Irene, who cured him from his wounds. At the far end, a table with a small glass of balsam and some bandages on a plate, which a maid brings.... Next to the bed several arrows, tied with the saint's bloodied cloths.... On the wall, a window, through which the saint is seen in the field, tied to a tree, where arrows are being
shot at him.... 54

Pacheco then writes that he painted the Saint Sebastian for the Hospital de San Sebastiin in the town of Alcali de Guadaira, just outside Seville. The theme of the work therefore alludes to the function of the space for which it was created. He explains that he executed the painting in close consultation with the humanist
51Priscilla E. Muller, "Francisco Pacheco as a Painter," Alarsyas 10 (1960-61): 40, emphasized the painterly quality of the picture-within-a-picture itself and therefore suggested that VelEzquez may have had a hand in the work. Juliln Gillego, El cuadro dentro del cuadro, 3rd ed. (Madrid: C;itedra, 1991), 15961, provides a description of Pacheco's Saint Sebastian and relates its compositional technique to Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Alary. On the Saint Sebastian, see also Lubomir Konecn; "Una ojeada en la circel dorada del maestro Pacheco," Boletin del Museo e Instituto Cani6n Aznar 27 (1987): 17-25. 52 1n the Adnotationes et meditationes, not all of the pictures-within-pictures are framed. It is nonetheless important to emphasize the differentiation between the various scenes in each engraving. The scenes are further distinguished from each other by the letters and corresponding captions. 53 Bryson, Looking at the Overlooked, 153. 54 Pacheco,Arte, 681:"Pint6se en el medio del cuadro, en una cama, a San Sebasti5n como de cuarenta afios, sentado, con una escudilla y cuchara de lamedor rosado, y aquella Santa viuda Irene que le cur6 de las heridas que, en pie, le asiste. Una mesa a la cabecera, con un vasico de bilsamo y algunas hilas en un plato, que trae una criada.... Junto a la cama algunas saetas, atadas con patios ensangrentados de! Santo.... En la pared, una ventana, por donde se ve el Santo en el campo, atado a un .irbol, donde le estin asaetando..."

Tiffany / Velilzquez's "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


Francisco de Medina, providing a valuable glimpse of the interaction between artists and scholars that characterized his circle in Seville. Indeed, Pacheco establishes Medina's collaboration as the reason for his extended discussion of the painting, stating, "Because it was the thought [pensainiento] of such an illustrious man ... I will explain it to those who are interested.'"55 Pacheco's statement indicates that he considered his painting to illustrate an elevated concept. In the Saint Sebastian Attended by Saint Irene, the device of the picture-withina-picture functions analogously to the framed scenes in Wierix shop engravings such as the MagdalenAnoints Christ's Feet (fig. 3). Pacheco's description of the painting in the Arte de la Pintura similarly invites the kind of sustained contemplation encouraged by the Adnotationes et meditationesby guiding the reader from the depiction of Sebastian and Irene in the foreground to the picture-within-a-picture in the background. His enumeration of the significance of the still-life elements recalls the method of beholding fostered by engravings such as the Magdalen Anoints Christ's Feet, in which the inscriptions accompanying each scene denote particular biblical events and remind the reader-beholder of the interrelation among the various Gospel episodes. In this way, each of the elements in Pacheco's composition refers to an episode from Saint Sebastian's passion. As he explains, the clothes resting on the chair in the foreground represent those worn by Sebastian in his "second martyrdom," while the arrows wrapped in bloodied cloth depict those shot by Diocletian's soldiers, and the olive branch with which Irene "brushes away the flies" alludes to mercy and peace, the meaning of the name Irene. 56 The cross in the left-hand corner, with the inscription "DEFENsOR ECCLESIAE," is a common device in seventeenth-century Spanish painting and encourages the beholder to remember that Sebastian died as a church martyr. The various components of Pacheco's painting, like those in the engraving of the Magdalen Anoints Christ's Feet, are to be meditated upon individually and to encourage the viewer to consider over time the different stages of Saint Sebastian's life and passion. Aspects of the Saint Sebastian seem to replicate the mnemonics outlined in Suirez de Salazar's "Tratado de la memoria artificiosa." As in Velizquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, Pacheco's depiction of Sebastian, Irene, and the maid in contemporary dress corresponds to Suirez de Salazar's suggestion to use people we know to fill our images. Pacheco's representation of Sebastian in bed, holding a bowl, and attended by two women recalls the exhortation in the "Tratado" to remember a poisoning by picturing "that Francisco, or someone we could easily remember, is sick in bed," while "the culprit was there, bound, next to the bed, on one side, the poisonous drink, and on the other, the testament and the many
55Pacheco,Arte, 681:"por set pensamiento de tan insigne var6n ... lo manifestard a los curiosos." Pacheco also tells us that he studied various representations of St. Sebastian. Leo Steinberg, introduction to Art about Art, ed. Jean Lipman and Richard Marshall, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, NewYork, 1978, 22-23, denmonstrated that the source for the picture-within-a-picture of St. Sebastian's
martyrdom was an engraving by Jan Harmensz Muller after a painting by Hans von Aachen. The

engraving is reproduced in Strauss, NetherlandishArtists, 463. 56

pacheco, Arte, 681: "segundo martirio"; "aparta las moxcas."


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neighbors who were there." 57 The artist's depiction of the saint "tied to a tree" further echoes this image of the culprit "bound, next to the bed." Perhaps most important, his inclusion of the arrows wrapped in bloodied cloth evokes the passage in the "Tratado" which admonishes the reader to create distinct and memorable mental images. As stated in the text, "the images must be of such quality that we can retain them in the memory for a long time, just as if we wish to remember something despised and miserable, let us pretend to see it bloodied, with poor clothing, and covered in mud, for the more effective the image, the better we shall remember."58 Pacheco and Medina doubtless considered these elements in the Saint Sebastian to carry a mnemonic function analogous to that explained in the "Tratado." In Pacheco's painting, the representation of the bloodied arrows, the saint bound to a tree, and the saint in bed holding a bowl serve to imprint images of Sebastian's passion on the beholder's memory, encouraging the viewer to examine these elements individually and repeatedly. The artist's creation of a painting to be considered over a prolonged period is crucial to our understanding of his engagement with the art of memory, for as stated in the "Tratado," we must preserve the images we create "in the memory for a long time." Pacheco and Medina may well have seen the imagery of a scene of Saint Sebastian and Saint Irene as appropriate to the devotional techniques related to the art of memory precisely because these elements of Sebastian's passion so closely resemble the particulars of the famous example in the Ad Herenniuni.

The Christ in the House of Martha and Mary demonstrates the complexity of Velizquez's engagement with the models provided by Pacheco's Saint Sebastian Attended by Saint Irene, the engravings of the Adnotationes et nieditationes, and the "inverted" religious paintings by Aertsen and his followers.Velizquez's use of a horizontal composition to depict a foreground kitchen scene and background biblical episode represents a departure from Pacheco's painting and the engravings in Nadal's treatise, and instead reflects his engagement with Aertsen's works.Yet in the context of the devotional methods expounded in the Adnotationes et tneditationes,Velizquez's representation of a picture-within-a-picture takes on a new significance. By placing
Suirez de Salazar, "Tratado," fol. 364v. The text reads: "Imaginaremos q[ue] Fran[cis]co esta enfermo en la carna o una persona de la qual facilm[en]te nos podriamos acordar.Y q[ue] el reo estaba alli junto a la cama apricionado, de una p[arlte el bebediso de otra el testam[en]to y muchos vecinos q[ue] alli asistian. De esta suerte faciln[en]te nos acordaremos de los testigos, herencia, veneno y muerto." 8 ' Suirez de Salazar, "Tratado," fol. 365r: "Las imagines an de ser de tal calidad que las podamos por largo tiempo retener en la memoria como si nos queremos acordar de una cosa menospreciada y iriserable,fingamosverla ensaqgrentadacon vestiduras pobres y cubierta de sieno porq[uej quanto mas eficas fuere la imagen tanto mejor nos acordaremos" (emphasis added). Leslie Korrick, "On the Meaning of Style: Nicol6 Circignani in Counter-Reformation Ronie; Word and Image 15, no. 2 (1999): 175, relates the corresponding passage in the Ad Herenniunm to the depictions of martyrdom commissioned in 1581 for the Roman Jesuit church of Santo Stefano Rotondo.

Tiffany / VelMzquezs "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


the framed biblical scene within the setting of a larger, contemporary kitchen, Velizquez, like the engravers, has responded to Ignatius's exhortation to use the sensory world as an aid to visualizing episodes from the Gospels. Velizquez emphasized the distinction between the worldly and spiritual realms through the contrast of the materiality of the paint in the contemporary scene and the loose brushstrokes constituting the biblical episode. He juxtaposed his realist style with the painterly representation of background figures in only one additional work: his other religious picture-within-a-picture, the Supper at Emmaus (c. 1617, Blessington, Beit Collection). In the Supper at Emmaus,Velizquez similarly combined a humble kitchen scene with a framed biblical image and contrasted the naturalism of the foreground with the fluid strokes of the background. 59 As in the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, this stark separation between foreground and background emphasizes the mnemonic function of the biblical episode, which seemingly reminds the beholder that Christ's revelation to his disciples is significant even to the African woman-probably one of Seville's many slaves-in the kitchen. The virtuosic brushwork in both paintings may have contributed to their devotional efficacy. As argued in Diego Jimnez's prologue to the Adnotationes et meditationes, masterly pictorial technique inspires the lengthy contemplation of images. Jim6nez explains that the treatise's engravings have been wrought with great "elegance and beauty of workmanship together with the greatest sanctity and excellence of theme" in order to "urge all to study and reflection by means of 60 assiduous meditation." In the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary,Vel5izquez guides our reading of the painting by depicting the old woman pointing toward her young companion, encouraging us to pause and meditate on the action of the woman whose kitchen work so closely resembles Martha's attendance to the Lord. As Victor Stoichita has argued, her pointed finger functions as an exhortatio that introduces Velizquez's painting to the beholder. 6 1 This gesture also functions in relation to the mnemonics of religion, exhorting the viewer to remember the active life of the foreground scene before reaching the contemplative life exemplified in the biblical episode. As in Cordeses's Tratado de las tres vidas, the "inverted" composition in the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary reminds the beholder that action is a step toward contemplation.

For a general discussion ofVelizquez's Supper at Ennnaus, see Rosemarie Mulcahy, Spanish Paintings in60 the National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, 1988), 79-82. Nadal, Adnotationes et nieditationes, fol. 2v; quoted and trans. in Walter S. Melion, "Artifice, Memory and Reforinatio in Hieronymus Natalis's Adnotationes et nieditationes in Evangelia," Renaissanceand Reformation 22, no. 3 (1998): 7: "sed potius ut opificij elegantia ac pulchritudo, simul cum maxima ipsius argumenti sanctitate atque excellentia, operisque pietate coniuncta, omnes ad illud evoluendum, assiduaque meditatione versandum invitaret." 61Stoichita, Self-Aware Ima,ge, 11, asserts that the old woman's finger-pointing is an "exhortatio, introducing the painting," but argues that she is scolding her companion.



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The equivocal visual qualities of Velizquez's picture-within-a-picture provide further keys to the artist's interpretation of the scene. His creation of an ambiguous framed image represents an important departure from Pacheco's painting, in which the window shutter makes it clear that the saint's martyrdom is seen through an opening in the wall. 62 In the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, Velizquez avoided providing clues-a shutter, the shadow cast by a picture frame, or streaks of light on a mirror surface-that would clarify the nature of the biblical episode. 63 On the contrary, he used his studies of linear perspective and optics to heighten the indeterminate nature of the framed scene. 64 If the picturewithin-a-picture were read as a window and the lines in its corners as orthogonals, the foreground and background scenes would appear to have vanishing points on opposite sides of the composition. 65 Similarly, if the framed scene were a painting, 66 it would need to be submerged in shadow like the rest of the back wall. Although Vehizquez played with the notion of mirror reversals through Christ's unusual left-handed gesture and Martha's repetition of the foreground figures' poses, the picture-within-a-picture is not a mirror reflection, for the illumination 67 emerges from opposite sides in the foreground and biblical scenes. The cryptic framed scene thus entices the beholder to question its identity and engage in a close analysis of the painting. VelYizquez's representation of a framed image that resembles a window, a painting, and a mirror is also significant in that it indicates his early experimentation with the kinds of optical ambiguities he would
As quoted above, Pacheco's text explicitly states that the episode is viewed through "a window." Velizquez apparently followed Pacheco's model in his own Supper at Einmaus; most scholars believe that the light brown patch of paint on the right-hand side of the framed scene represents a window shutter. See, for example, Brown, Vehizquez, 21. 63 For various identifications of Velizquez's picture-within-a-picture see, for example, William B. Jordan, Spanish Still Life in the Golden Age, exh. cat.. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1985, 85; Brown, Vel4zquez, 16-17; P6rez Lozano, "Velizquez en el entorno de Pacheco,' 96; Delenda, Velizquez, 27;William B.Jordan and Peter Cherry, Spanish Still Lifefroln Veldzquez to Goya, exh. cat., National Gallery, London, 1995, 39; Harris and Davies, cat. no. 21 in Velhzquez in Seville, 132; Jonathan Miller, On Reflection, exh. cat., National Gallery, London, 1998, 124. 64 Palomino, Vidas, 157, discusses the young Velrizquez's study of perspective. For recent critical assessments of the artist's interest in optics and perspective, see Martin Kemp, The Science ofArt: Optical Themes in Western Artfroin Brunelleschi to Seurat (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1990), esp. 99-108; Fernando Marias, "El g6nero de Las rneninas:Los servicios de la familia," in Otras nieninas,ed. Fernando Marias (Madrid: Ediciones Siruela, 1995), esp. 265-67; Eileen Reeves, "1614-1621:The Buen Pintor of Seville," chap. 5 in Paintingthe Heavens:Art and Science ii tile Age of Galileo (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 184-225;Agustin Bustamante and Fernando Marias, "Entre prictica y teoria: La formaci6n deVelizquez en Sevilla," in Velhzquez y Sevilla, Estudios, 141-57. 6 5Peter Cherry, "Los bodegones deVel5zquez y la verdadera imitaci6n del natural," in Velizquez y Sevilla, Estudios,88, notes that the foreground and background scenes appear to have separate vanishing points. He nevertheless argues that the framed scene is a window. 66 Barto1om6 Mestre Fiol, "El 'espejo referencial' en la pintura deVel.izquez:Jesfis ei la casa de Marta y Maria," Traza y Baza 2 (1973): 22. 67 jos6 L6pez-Rey, Veldzquez: A Catalogue Raisonn of His Oeuvre with an Introductory Study (London: Faber & Faber, 1963), 32 n. 3, pointed out Christ's left-handed gesture. In his Christ in the House of Martha and Mary in Rotterdam,Aertsen also represented Christ raising his left hand.

Tiffany / Veltizquez's "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"


favor throughout his career, culminating in the brilliantly enigmatic pictureswithin-pictures of Las Hilanderas (ca. 1657/58, Madrid, Museo del Prado) and Las 68 Meninas (1656, Madrid, Museo del Prado). As in these late works, the indeterminate nature of the background scene challenges the viewer to examine the composition at length in order to resolve the visual puzzle posed by the artist. In the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, however, the enigmatic quality of the framed scene relates to its function as a religious image.The impossibility of securely identifying the nature of the biblical episode means that Velizquez's composition cannot be understood as a narrative in which the religious scene is either a history painting hanging on a seventeenth-century kitchen wall or an event occurring contemporaneously in an adjacent room. Defying straightforward readings, the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary encourages the viewer to consider the symbolic relationship between the active life figured in the foreground and the contemplative life represented in the religious episode. The ambiguity of the picture-within-a-picture furthermore heightens its distinction from the rest of the work and thereby reinforces its function as an individual site of meditation within the larger setting of the composition. Emphatically differentiated from the kitchen scene, the framed image urges the beholder to focus on Christ's lesson to Martha and Mary, even as the painting's foreground elements encourage the viewer to consider the significance of kitchen work. As a whole, the compositional structure of the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary invites the beholder to mediate between the kitchen scene and the framed mnemonic image, reflecting on the importance of the everyday toils of the active life while bearing in mind "the best part" embodied by the contemplative life.

See Juli5n Gillego, Vision et syniboles dans la peinture espaqnole du siMle d'or (Paris: Klincksieck, 1968), esp. 252-53; Stoichita, Se!f-Aware inage, 13; Bryson, Looking at the Overlooked, 152. On the date of Las Hilanderas,see Brown, Veldzquez, 252 n. 32. For an exemplary discussion of the use of the mirror in Las Meninas as a puzzle to delight Philip IV, see Marias, "El g6nero de Las meeninas," esp. 263-78.



TITLE: Visualizing Devotion in Early Modern Seville: Vel%azquezs Christ in the House of Martha and Mary SOURCE: Sixteenth Cent J 36 no2 Summ 2005 WN: 0519600678006 The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited. To contact the publisher:

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