Spanish, c1615-1673 (MORS IMPERATOR)
ST LOUIS CONTEMPLATING DEATH
SN 711, oil on canvas, 1651
From "The Pages"
Camillo was a Spanish painter of Italian origin, and the earliest exponent of the High
Baroque Style in Madrid. There is evidence that he began painting when very young at
18 he painted a St Francis for the Jesuits in Madrid. Between 1649-55 he was employed by
the Carthusian monastery of El Paular, Madrid.
Although he is best known as the patron saint of Paris, Louis was partly Spanish by birth.
His mother was Queen Blanche of Castile; when Louis first became king of France (in 1226)
at the age of twelve, she was there to assist him. He married Margaret of Provence and
produced eleven children.
In 1248 Louis led a crusade, during which he was captured and imprisoned. During the
journey he reputedly obtained relics of the True Cross, as well as of the Crown of Thorns.
(St Chapelle, Paris, was built to house the Crown.)
As a king, Louis embodies the highest ideals of the medieval Christian ruler. A man of the
highest integrity, he was sincerely religious & greatly admired as a brilliant
statesman, fair judge, peacemaker, and brave soldier. As saint, his attributes are the
Crown of Thorns, and the True Cross.
Louis wears a robe lavishly trimmed with ermine; a jeweled Order is prominent on his
breast. In his right
hand he holds a scepter topped with the Hand of God. Beside him is a table with an
elaborate cover, on
which there is a skull wearing the crown of France. Louis rests his left hand upon the
Camillo preferred elongated proportions and undulating outlines for his figures; although
Louis is standing motionless, he does not appear static. Camillo tended to depict gentle,
devout, and sentimental expressions, with coloring that is always elegantly harmonized.
This painting serves as a reminder that death comes to all even kings. The
illusionism of the painting connects the viewer to the Saint, and reminds us to follow
Louis example in meditating upon the vanity of earthly existence. The painting was a
Museum purchase in 1960.