ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics
Artist: Juan Bautista Maíno – c. 1612 – 1614
The episode of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Virgin and the Apostles is narrated in Acts of the Apostles (2:1-4). As they were gathered together, praying in the room of a house in Jerusalem, fifty days after the resurrection of Christ, suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and they sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Maíno locates the events in a large and imposing interior, indicated by the weighty column shaft that closes the composition on the right. Maíno presents the Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove with outstretched wings from which bursts of yellow and orange light emerge. The artist locates this luminous apparition towards the top of the canvas, omitting the presence of the tongues of flame over the heads of those present. This restraint in the depiction of the presence of the Holy Spirit is also evident in the reactions of the Apostles, whose astonishment lacks fear or excessive drama and is experienced in serene silence. The raised heads and wrinkled brows of the men (which contrast with the idealized faces of the two women) convey the respect and concentration that the miraculous event provokes in them. One of the Apostles and Magdalen join their hands in prayer while Mary raises her left hand to her breast and stretches out her right hand, which is close to the figure of Saint Peter in front of her.