The Adoration of the Magi, c. 1628 - 1629
When Rubens visited Madrid on a diplomatic mission in 1628-29 he found this painting, which he himself had executed in 1609 for Antwerp city council, and which now belonged to Philip IV’s collection. He made substantial changes to the composition. He added a strip to the top of the scene and another to the right-hand side and adapted the language of the painting to the style he was then using, which was greatly inspired by Titian. He also included a portrait of himself on horseback with gold chain and sword, conveying his noble status. More
The identity of the saint was repeatedly misinterpreted over the course of the painting’s publication. It was listed as the “Madonna of Humility” but it has also been thought to be Mary Magdalene, on account of the saint’s red robes. The similarities in the representation of the present figure and the one at the right side of Sano di Pietro’s Man of Sorrows, in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (below), suggests this is in fact an image of Saint John the Evangelist. The flower motif, which perhaps fueled the mystery of the saint’s identification, was likely to have been painted in at a later date. The vertical line in the figure’s left was intended to represent the crease in the palm formed by the flesh of the thumb. One hypothesis is that this line was misunderstood by a well-meaning restorer who, assuming something must be missing, added the delicate bloom, transforming the line into the extended stem of a flower. More
Sano di Pietro or Ansano di Pietro di Mencio (1406–1481) was an Italian painter of the Sienese school of painting. His career spanned from the end of the Trecento period into the Quattrocento period. His contemporaries included Giovanni di Paolo and Sassetta. His name enters the roll of painters in 1428 where it remained until his death in 1481. In addition to his own painting and overseeing the pupils and assistants in his workshop, he was also part of the civic fabric of Siena. There are city records showing his participation. Sano was also employed as an arbitrator; in 1475 he was called upon to settle a dispute between fellow painters Neroccio di Bartolommeo and Francesco di Giorgio Martini.
It was, however, as a painter that he made his living. The workshop he ran produced a huge number of artworks. Sano himself is quite interesting. He wasn't merely a painter of altar pieces. He also produced frescoes, miniatures, and book bindings. Book bindings are exquisite little paintings that went on the spine of a book. After a long and successful career Sano died in 1481. More Sano di Pietro