How to depict the “presentation of the Christ-child in the temple”
Year mention: 1649
presentation of the Christ-child in the temple
Pacheco, Francisco
Jeronimo Nadal, Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, plate 8 from Evangelicae and Adnotationes (1593), which engravings illustrate the Biblia Natalis
Internet archive (original from Getty Research Institute)

Using one artwork made by Jeronimo Nadal and one painted by Mase Pedro Campaa as examples, Pacheco analysed how to represent the story about the presentation of the Christ-child in the temple.

“Let us come then to the painting. The picture of Father Geronimo Nadal and the one painted by Mase Pedro in the main church at the entrance of the Chapter, with such grandeur, will help a lot in the description of this story. of illustrious architecture, with twelve tortuous columns, gallantly clad like those of the Temple of Solomon, six on each side, with three doors, and, in the middle of the main arch, a candlestick with six lighted lights and a square table in the middle; behind it, there will be the holy Simeon, dressed in the costume that we put on Zacarias, because he was of the common priests, like him, according to St. Epiphanius, St. Cirillo, Father Canisius, and Castro; and, for this, he blessed them. He will have the Child pressed to him with great affection and tenderness, as Mase Pedro painted him, although accompanied by other ministers. On the right side, the holy widow Anne, turned to many people, pointing to the Child held by Simeon; the Virgin, Our Lady, in a pink robe and blue mantle and veil on her head. She will be in front of Simeon, with a round cage in her hands, with the offering of two turtledoves or two doves, as she offers it, her holy husband Joseph, dressed as is customary, with cloak and tunic, counting with his right hand in the right hand of a minister of the Temple the five cycles, whose value in our currency was four reales, as Fonseca says he will have in his left hand a poor little bag (this is how Father Nadal put it). They can accompany inside the Temple figures of men and women, some with children in their arms and, at the doors, some poor people or, as Mase Pedro put it, one before going up to the steps where the other main figures are”.

Vengamos pues a la pintura. Ayudará mucho a la descripción desta historia la estampa del P. Gerónimo Nadal y la que pintó Mase Pedro en la Iglesia mayor a la entrada del Cabildo, con tanta grandeza El P. Nadal puso un sumptuoso templo […] de ilustre arquitectura, con doce colunas tortuosas, galanamente revestidas como las del Templo de Salomón, seis a cada parte, con tres puertas, y, en medio del arco principal, pendiente, un candelero con seis luces encendidas y una mesa cuadrada en medio; detrás della, estará el santo Simeón, vestido con el traje que pusimos a Zacarias, porque fue de los sacerdotes comunes, como él, según San Epifanio, San Cirillo, el P. Canisio y Castro; y, por esto, los bendixo. Tendrá el Niño apretado consigo con grande afecto y ternura, como lo pintó Mase Pedro, si bien acompañado de otros ministros. Al lado derecho, la santa viuda Ana, vuelta a muncha gente, señalando al Niño que tiene Simeón; la Virgen, Nuestra Señora, de rudillas con túnica rosada cenida y manto azul y velo sobre su cabeza. Estará delante de Simeón, con una como jaula redonda en las manos, con la ofrenda de las dos tórtolas o dos palominos, como que la ofrece, su santo esposo Josef, vestido como se acostumbra, con manto y túnica, contando con la mano derecha en la mano derecha de un ministro del Templo los cinco ciclos, cuyo valor de nuestra moneda era cuatro reales, como dice Fonseca; tendrá en la mano isquierda una bolsica pobre (así le puso el P. Nadal). Pueden acompañar dentro del Templo figuras de varones y mujeres, algunas con niños en los brazos y, a las puertas, algunos pobres o, como puso Mase Pedro, uno antes de subir a las gradas donde están las demás figuras principales.”

Model to follow

Jeronimo Nadal, plate 8 Evangelicae Historiae Imagines (1593) Mase Pedro Campaña, central panel of the altarpiece of the Mariscal. Cathedral of Seville, ca. 1555

Anna (prophetess), Christ-child, infancy, Joseph (St.), Mary (Virgin), New Testament, presenting a person, Simeon (St.), temple

Date mention

Historical Location

Type of Object

Iconclass Number

Pacheco, El Arte de la pintura (1649), book 3, ch.12, 621-622

Pacheco 1990, 621, n.88;

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