Francisco Camillo
Spanish, c1615-1673 (MORS IMPERATOR)


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 crown.

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.