19th-Century Spanish School

St Aloysius Gonzaga

19th-Century Spanish School

St Aloysius Gonzaga

This beautiful early 19th-century Spanish oil painting depicts St Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of youth and students.

Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591) was born into an aristocratic family but, much to the dismay of his parents, abandoned his riches to become a selfless Jesuit priest.

Led solely by his devotion, he volunteered to work at a hospital in Rome during an outbreak of the plague. Tirelessly caring for the hordes of sick and dying. Washing them, feeding them, and preparing them for the sacraments.

Such was the death toll that his superiors demanded that he leave the hospital for his own safety. But, despite their wishes, he moved to another location to continue his work. Ultimately dying of the plague in 1591. He was canonised by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726 and named patron of all Christian youth by Pope Pius XI in 1926.

In more recent times, he’s become an icon for courage in the face of incurable diseases and a patron for AIDS patients.

Artists throughout the centuries have turned to his image time and time again. Here we see him holding lilies - a reference to innocence. It was probably once intended for public or private worship.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 18½” x 25½” / 47cm x 65cm
Year of creation: c. 1830
Labels & Inscriptions: Auction chalk on reverse. Yellow chalk may indicate a previous Sotheby’s sale.
Provenance: Private collection, Spain.
Condition: For decorative reasons, we’ve left this piece in ‘as found’ condition. Previous folds, paint losses, scuffing, and one minor perforation.

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