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Altarpiece of Our Lady of the Rosary

by Antonio del Castillo

In the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary is this altarpiece, consisting of four paintings by Antonio del Castillo. The commission, conceived as a devotional image, must be understood in the complex context of a Cordoba lashed by the plague. At that time worship and devotion to the Rosary and the Saints became more common. Thus, the altarpiece is presided over by Our Lady of the Rosary, flanked by the intercessors Saint Sebastian and Saint Roch, and the canvas of the Crucifixion at the top completes the composition.

A highlight in the central canvas is the roundness of the figure of Mary, which seems to be inspired by the sculptural prototypes of that period. She is captured in a maternal posture, holding the infant Jesus who is playing with the rosary beads hanging from her neck. Details such as Mary looking at the spectator and the gesture of stroking her son's feet reveal the daily and human character with Antonio del Castillo gives to this sacred scene.

In perfect contrast we find the figure of Saint Sebastian the Martyr, where the author masterfully deploys the delicate softness of nudity, highlighted by the treatment of the light and the sinuous curve created by his body. Moreover, Saint Roch appears as a traveller, captured in elegant "contraposto" at the time when the cover is removed to show the wound to his thigh.

Antonio del Castillo

Leading figure of Baroque painting in Cordoba. His link with Cordoba Cathedral is clear from the various works he carried out, among which are the paintings of Saint Acisclus and the Immaculate Conception on the Saint Martha Altar

Technical sheet
  • Title: Canvases on the altarpiece in the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary
  • Author: Antonio del Castillo
  • Date: 1647
  • Material and technique: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: Our Lady of the Rosary (194 x 85 cm) and Saint Sebastian and Saint Roch (177 x 56 cm) 
  • Location: Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary (north wall)
Key features of the work
  • The facial features of Our Lady of the Rosary show great similarities to those of the Marian effigy appearing in the Imposition of the chasuble of Saint Ildefonsus, on display at the Museum of Fine Arts of Cordoba. It is therefore likely that Antonio del Castillo used the same female model

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