Bernardo Cavallino

The Vision of St. Dominic

c. 1640-1645
We seem to be looking through an opening in the painting's surface. Within we see a vision: St. Dominic, kneeling, has just kissed the Christ Child's foot, and now receives the rosary from the hand of the Virgin; St. Catherine of Siena looks on, enraptured. The Virgin and Child appear on a cloud bank; the sky is now yellow-brown as the blue pigment degraded. The boundaries of vision and painting are deliberately unclear: the edges of the oval opening seem insubstantial, and the lilies by St. Dominic's feet (one of his symbols) would have once crossed over into our space, joining the garland of flowers. Wreathing sacred images with flowers, real or painted, was a tradition in parts of Catholic Europe. The painting was once larger: much of the garland has been lost. It is clearly by another hand; Cavallino gave the task to a specialist painter.
The Vision of St. Dominic
c. 1640-1645
oil on canvas
97.2 x 73 cm; image: 97.2 x 65.6 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1981
Accession number