Painting: Pictures for Praying

Isabella of Castile is best known to history as the lady who, with King Ferdinand, backed Columbus on his voyage that led to the discovery of the New World. But in her time, the Spanish Queen was equally renowned as a patroness of the arts. At her bidding, Juan de Flandes and Miguel Sithium painted 47 miniature panels between 1498 and 1504 portraying the lives of Christ and Mary for her private chapel. All but two were probably by Juan de Flandes, a Fleming whose sophisticated fusion of courtliness and naiveté, and languid, doll-like figures were much prized in...

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