Mudo, El

Mudo, el

(the Mute), an eminent Spanish painter who attained great celebrity because of his masterly delineations of sacred subjects, was born at Logrono in 1526. His real name was Juan Fernandez Naverette, or Juan Fernandez Ximenes de Naverette. He was called "el Mudo," after he had acquired distinction as a painter, from his having been deaf and dumb from his infancy. He showed a talent for art early in life, and: first studied under Foy Vicente de Santo Domingo, a monk of the Order of Geronomytes, under whom he made such rapid progress, and exhibited so much genius, that his parents, by the advice of his instructor, sent him to Italy to study with Titian, with whom he remained several years, and thoroughly imbibed his principles and manner of coloring, so that he was called by his countrymen the Spanish Titian. He remained. in Italy twenty years, visiting all the principal cities-Rome, Florence, Naples, etc. studying the works of the most eminent painters, who entertained for him the highest respect on account of his eminent abilities, perhaps heightened by his infirmity. He had already acquired a distinguished reputation in Italy when, in 1568, he was summoned to Madrid by Philip II to paint in the Escurial, and on his arrival he was appointed painter to the king, with a pension of two hundred ducats, in addition to the price of his works. He was naturally of a delicate constitution, and he had hardly commenced his labors when a severe malady compelled him to retire, with the permission of his royal patron,. to his native place, Logrono, where he remained three years, during which time he painted four magnificent pictures, and carried them with him to Madrid in 1571. These were the Assumption of the Virgin, the Martyrdom of St. James the Great, a St. Philip, and a St. Jerome, which were placed in the Escurial, while the artist was rewarded with five hundred ducats, besides his pension. The head of the Virgin in the Assumption is supposed to be a portrait of his mother, the Donna Catalina Ximenes, who in her youth was very beautiful. In 1575 he added four more pictures, the Nativity, Christ at the Pillar, the Holy Family, and St. John writing the Apocalypse, for which he received eight hundred ducats. In the Nativity El Mudo successfully overcame a formidable difficulty in painting — the introducing of three lights into the picture. as in the famous Notte of Correggio; one from the irradiation proceeding from the infant Jesus, another from a glory of angels above, and a third from a flaming torch. It is related that Pellegrino Tibaldi, on seeing it, exclaimed, "Oh, i belli pastori!" This exclamation gave name to the picture, and it continues to be known to this day as "The beautiful Shepherds." In 1576 he painted his famous piece of Abraham entertaining the three Angels, for which he received five hundred ducats. He now undertook a stupendous work, and was engaged to paint thirty-two pictures for the Escurial, twenty-seven of which were to be seven feet and a half in height and seven feet and a quarter in breadth, and the other five thirteen feet high and nine broad. He did not live to complete this vast undertaking; he painted eight, representing the apostles, the evangelists, and St. Paul and St. Barnabas; the others were finished by Alonso Sanchez Caello and Luis de Carovajal. El Mudo died in 1579. His pictures are extremely inaccessible; except a small picture of the baptism of Christ in the museum at Madrid, they are buried in the royal solitude of the Escurial.

There were two other Spanish painters, of little note, called El Mudo — one PEDRO EL MUDO, and the other DIEGO LOPEZ, who must not be confounded with the illustrious Navarette.

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