In a century like the XVII, where in Spain there were painters as great as Velázquez, El Greco or Murillo, it becomes very difficult to attract attention and go down in art history. Although, being completely overshadowed by these great masters is somewhat unfair to other painters of enormous quality. That is the case of Fray Juan Bautista Maíno (1581 – 1649).
The recovery of the Brazilian Bay of Maíno
In fact, in life he was a well-known and admired painter, and even the writer himself Lope de Vega showed his admiration for his painting in some other verse. In addition, he always had the favor of King Philip IV, thanks to which he was commissioned this enormous painting of about 9 square meters to decorate the Hall of Kingdoms with an image of how the militarydon Fadrique de Toledo took back for Spain the port of Bahía de Todos los Santos and the city of Salvador. That is, the current Salvador de Baia in Brazil that for a time was in Dutch hands. And to pay homage to his reconqueror, in the background to the right of the canvas there is a representation of a tapestry where the soldier appears accompanied by King Felipe IV himself and the powerful Count-Duke of Olivares.
You have to take into account that in addition to the quality of the fabric, which it has, especially with regard to the composition and thestudy of perspective, this artist always had the favor of King Felipe IV, among other things because he had been his drawing teacher when he was still a prince. And drawing is really another of this artist's strengths, something that has a lot to do with his origins and training.
Maíno was born in the city of Pastrana, Guadalajara, but was the son of a mixed marriage between Italian and Portuguese. So as a young man he traveled to Italy to finish his training, and there he learned first-hand both the classicist art of Anibale Carracci and chiaroscuro, especially all of Guido Reni, of which we can consider him a follower in many aspects. And because of that mix of influences from his, his dominant drawing and a very intense color treatment emerge, two tools with which he is capable of giving monumentality to his compositions, as in this case. To which we must add his qualities for portrait and landscape.
In short, he was an artist especially gifted for art, but as we say, his figure is quite unknown. Something that is due to two reasons. On the one hand, the quality of the art of other contemporaries and, on the other hand, his own vital vicissitudes also have a great influence. In fact, we can say that this work, painted in 1615 and now preserved in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, was the last great work by Juan Bautista Maíno, since two years earlier he had admitted as a Dominican friar and from then on he dedicated himself much less to artistic tasks, in favor of his lifereligious.