Juan Bautista Maíno

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Fray Juan Bautista Maíno (1581-1649), an influential Spanish painter during the Baroque era, a period in which complexity and emotion merged in art, is one of the titles of our series of art books. His works, deeply rooted in the tenebrist naturalism of Caravaggio, as well as in the classical Bolognese influences and the brushstrokes of the Italian Baroque, have been chosen for the covers of our books. This choice is due to the fact that we consider his images as emblematic in the European collective imagination of the New World, reflecting the aesthetics and symbolism of the continent.
Maíno’s emblematic work is Lto recovery of All Saints Bay. Painted between 1634 and 1635 for the Hall of Kingdoms of the Buen Retiro Palace, this painting is preserved in the Prado Museum.
Commissioned in late 1634, Maíno completed the painting on June 16, 1635. The event commemorated is the recovery of Salvador de Bahia, seized by the Dutch in 1624, by a Spanish-Portuguese fleet under the command of Fadrique de Toledo. It is part of a series of battles celebrating the victories of Spanish arms in the Thirty Years’ War. The victory in Bahia symbolizes the benefits of the Union of Arms and the magnanimity of Philip IV.
The painting shows the moment in which Don Fadrique presents conditions of capitulation to the Dutch. King Philip IV and the Count-Duke of Olivares are present, albeit figuratively. The king is crowned with laurel by Minerva and Olivares, and the victory is attributed to divine intervention. The image of a man biting a broken cross symbolizes the defeated Heresy.
The painting highlights the Union of Arms as a source of victory and peace, exemplifying the policy of Olivares. Allegorical figures, realism and religious symbolism intertwine to create a political and spiritual message.
Born in Pastrana, Guadalajara, Maíno was the son of a Milanese cloth merchant and a Portuguese noblewoman linked to the Princess of Éboli. His early formative years were spent in Italy (1600-1608), where he immersed himself in the work of Caravaggio, Orazio Gentileschi, Guido Reni and Annibale Carracci.
His return to Spain in 1608 marked the beginning of his outstanding career in Pastrana and Toledo. His style was characterized by a balance between classicism, naturalism and tenebrism, as reflected in his work “Trinidad”. In 1612, he painted his well-known “Altarpiece of the Four Easters”, now in the Prado Museum.
Juan Bautista Maíno entered the Order of St. Dominic in 1613, which curtailed his artistic activity, but he continued to create significant works such as his “Adoration of the Shepherds.” He was called to court by Philip III in 1620, where he became drawing master to the future Philip IV and struck up a friendship with Diego Velázquez, whom he supported in his rise at court.
The work of Juan Bautista Maíno is a significant testimony to Spanish Baroque art, marked by its emotional depth and meticulous attention to detail. The connection with great masters such as Caravaggio and his ability to incorporate international influences into his work make him an essential figure in the history of Spanish art.
His influence and talent were recognized with an anthological exhibition at the Prado Museum in 2009, where many of his masterpieces are located. The acquisition of a small “San Juan Bautista” painted in copper by the Prado underlines the continued appreciation and study of his work.
Fray Juan Bautista Maíno is a key figure in Spanish Baroque art. His life and work reflect a time of great transformation and creativity in European art.

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