Last of the line of great native Spanish painters, Coello was noted in his day for his technical virtuosity, which was eclipsed in the last year of his life by the arrival from Naples of Luca Giordano, the famous “fa presto.” Son of a Portuguese artist, Coello trained with Francisco Ricci, from whom he derived his decorative facility. The paintings for San Placido, Madrid, executed while with Ricci, already demonstrate his florid style. Through the good offices of Carreno he was invited to copy the royal collection of Titian, Rubens and van Dyck. He was the outstanding fresco painter of his day, and he had large commissions in Toledo, Zaragoza and Madrid, in some of which he was assisted by Donoso or Palomino. Most of these are lost today, but we can recognize his taste for large intricate compositions in the bravura and complications of his canvases. Charles II appointed him King’s painter and in 1685 he succeeded his friend Carreno as pintor de camara. Coello had devised elaborate street decorations and arches in honor of the King’s wedding to Marie Louise of Orleans, and in 1687 he completed his masterpiece, the Adoration of the Sacred Form for the sacristy of the Escorial. This composition, an elaborate bit of Velasquen depth organization, is obliquely twisted a la Baroque. It represents the transfer by Charles II of’ a mysterious sacramental wafer to the sanctuary of the church. It recalls Raphael’s Mass of Bolsena, but with seventeenth-century flourishes.
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