Follower of El Greco: Julián Romero and his patron saint (1612-1618)


(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

A painting by a follower of the Greek artist Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541-1614), better known as 'El Greco' (= 'the Greek'). Julián Romero de Ibarrola (1518-1577) was a Spanish military commander who started as a common soldier but managed to rise up to the rank of Maestre de campo (chief of staff, a very high military rank) of the tercio of Sicily. Romero joined the Spanish army at the age of 16 and fought in most of the Spanish wars with must distinction. He was most active during the first period of the Dutch war of Independence (1568-1648): he was also present at the Massacre of Naarden (1572) in which about 3000 Dutch citizens of the town of Naarden were killed by Spanish soldiers, he commanded troops during the siege of Haarlem (1573), the relieve of Middelburg (1574) and during a night raid at Symphorien on 11/ 12 september 1572 he almost managed to capture prince William I 'the silent'of Orange, the leader of the Dutch rebellion (the dog of William managed to alarm his master and by that saving him). This portrait shows Romero as a Knight in the Order of Santiago who is kneeling and praying. Standing next to Romero is his patron saint - the identity of the saint in unclear: it could be saint Louis of France (there are fleur-de-lis on the cloak of the saint) or saint Julian (there are several saints called Julian, perhaps saint Julian the Hospitaller?). Romero has his hands folded in prayer and directs his gaze upwards with his patron saint interceding on his behalf. The Spanish text on the left reads: "Julián Romero, el de las hazañas, natural de Antequera, comendador de la Orden de Santiago, Maestre de campo, el más famoso de los ejércitos de Italia y Flandes, de cuyos hechos gloriosos están llenas las historias" (= Julian Romero de las Azanas, Knight in the Order of Santiago, Maestre de campo of the famous armies of Italy and Flanders (= modern Belgium and the Netherlands), whose deeds are glorious). The painting was probably intended for a family funeral chapel which Julián Romero's daughter constructed in Madrid. Painting from 1612-1618.


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