Diego Rodríguez da Silva y Velázquez 1599 – 1660

St John at Patmos

oil on canvas (135 × 102 cm) — c. 1618 Museum The National Gallery, London

Diego Rodríguez da Silva y Velázquez biography

This work is linked to Revelation 12:1

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Tradition has it that St John the Evangelist was sent into exile on the island of Patmos, one of the Cyclades. There he supposedly wrote his Revelation, sent to him in a series of visions.

Here Velázquez shows John as he looks up to the vision of the woman he describes in chapter 12. She was about to give birth to a son who was to be attacked be a dragon - a resemblance to either Jesus or the situation of the persecuted christians.

It is hardly visible but to his right stands an eagle, Johns traditional attribute.

Velázquez was about 19 when he painted this picture. He used a Spanish model who hardly had any eastern looks. It was most likely made for a Carmelite convent in Sevilla, together with a painting of the Immaculate Conception.

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