The picture may have been painted in Seville, where Velázquez was trained, or in Madrid, where he moved in 1623. The realism of the figures, the strong dramatic light, and the attention to still-life details recall the work of Caravaggio, which Velázquez would have known in Seville through copies. Christ is shown at the moment when he is recognized by two disciples following his resurrection, as "he took bread, blessed and broke it, and handed it to them".
Velázquez’s painting represents the culminating event of the gospel episode of the Supper at Emmaus. Two of Christ’s followers were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, seven miles away from the city, three days after Christ’s death. They were joined on the road by a third pilgrim; they started to talk to him and told him what they had heard that day about Christ’s resurrection. They reached an inn and there they recognized the man as Jesus himself: "When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight." The disciples then returned to Jerusalem and told the apostles that they had seen the resurrected Christ (Luke 24: 13–35).
The work is typical of Velázquez’s early career and of the paintings produced by him before his first trip to Italy, in 1629–31. During that time he lived in Seville and, from 1623, in Madrid. The Supper at Emmaus has been dated to 1622–23, around the time when he moved from his birthplace to Madrid. The painting is powerfully Caravaggesque in style, and it is likely that Velázquez knew some of the copies of pictures by Caravaggio that are documented in Seville in the seventeenth century. The face of the model used for the disciple looking out of the scene is the same as the main character in the Waterseller of Seville (Apsley House, Wellington Museum, London). The support of the painting is a specific type of canvas, known as "mantelillo" or "mantel," with a recognizable diamond-shaped pattern; this type of canvas was often used by artists in Seville, Toledo, and southern Italy. The reddish ground used on the canvas is also typical of Velázquez’s early paintings. The provenance from a private collection in Seville in the nineteenth century may reasonably imply that the picture was painted in the city for a local patron.
Three copies of the Supper at Emmaus survive. One was sold at Sotheby’s, New York, January 15, 1987, no. 64. It was previously in the collections of King Louis Philippe of France, Lord Breadalbane and the London dealer Sabin. The canvas is slightly wider, suggesting that the MMA painting was cut down after this copy was produced. A second and later copy was in the collection of G. P. Dudley Wallis; a third was in a private collection in Spain.
[Xavier F. Salomon 2011]
José Cañaveral y Manuel de Villena, Seville (by 1870–at least 1891); Maria del Valle Gonzalez Moyano, widow Garzón, Seville (in 1899); Dr. Egli Sinclair, Zurich (by 1903; sale, Christie's, London, April 25, 1903, no. 101, for £315, bought in); ["a syndicate of Seville gentlemen" including Manuel de Soto, Zurich, and apparently also Heinemann, Munich, by 1906–at least 1909]; [Gimpel and Wildenstein, Paris, in 1910]; Benjamin Altman, New York (1910–13)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 124.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Velázquez," October 3, 1989–January 7, 1990, no. 6.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Velázquez Rediscovered," November 17, 2009–February 7, 2010, no catalogue.
Federico de Madrazo y Küntz. Pocket agenda entry. January 30, 1870 [Archivo del Museo Nacional del Prado, AP 18/2], mentions being shown this picture by Cañaveral.
A. de Beruete. Velazquez. Paris, 1898, pp. 22–23, ill. p. 19, calls it an early work, undoubtedly authentic; mentions another picture of the same subject belonging to Lord Breadalbane, Perthshire.
Jacinto Octavio Picon. Vida y obras de Don Diego Velazquez. Madrid, 1899, pp. 36, 204, as an early work, in the collection of Sra. Viuda de Garzón, Seville.
M. R. "The Picture Sales." Burlington Gazette no. 2, vol. 1 (May 1903), pp. 46–47, ill.
A. de Beruete. Velazquez. Revised translation of 1898 ed. London, 1906, pp. 13–14, 156–57, pl. 9, as an early work in the collection of Manuel de Soto, Zurich.
R. A. M. Stevenson. Velasquez. London, 1906, p. 158, mistakenly as still in the collection of Maria del Valle Gonzalez Moyano.
Narciso Sentenach y Cabañes. La pintura en Madrid desde sus orígenes hasta el siglo XIX. Madrid, 1907, p. 95, as the last work of his Sevillian days.
Roger Fry. Letters. January 3–March 5, 1907 [see Ref. Sutton 1972], in letters of January 3, January 11, and March 5, 1907, notes that "two different owners both claim to have sole rights" to this picture and mentions the Munich dealer, Heinemann [the other "owner" is presumed by the editor to be Manuel de Soto, Zurich]; remarks that "in view of the dislike people have evinced towards it" he is not pursuing its purchase at the present time.
Albert F. Calvert and C. Gasquoine Hartley. Velazquez: An Account of His Life and Works. London, 1908, pp. 34, 212, no. 145, date it during the artist's early years in Seville and locate it in the collection of Don Manuel de Soto, Zurich.
Walther Gensel. The Work of Velasquez. New York, 1908, p. 8, ill., dates it about 1618–20.
Warren C. Bevan. Letter to Bruce E. Burt. August 11, 1909, states that it is owned by a "syndicate of Seville gentlemen," including Manuel de Soto, Spanish vice-consul in Zurich.
Aureliano de Beruete and Marques de la Vega Inclan. Letter to Wildenstein. November 7, 1910, certify its authenticity.
Aureliano de Beruete y Moret. Letter to Leon Hirsch. December 7, 1911 [the author of this letter is the son of the Velázquez expert of the same name], as an early work, not of the first magnitude.
"The Benjamin Altman Bequest." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (November 1913), p. 238, ill. pp. 231 (installation view), 237.
Walter Gensel. Velazquez: Des Meisters Gemälde. Ed. Valerian von Loga. 3rd ed. Stuttgart, 1914, p. 258, ill. p. 18, dates it about 1620.
Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. New York, 1914, pp. 39–40, no. 25, dates it to Velázquez's early period.
Bryson Burroughs. Catalogue of Paintings. 2nd ed. New York, 1916, pp. 302–3, considers it an early work of Velázquez.
August L. Mayer. Geschichte der spanischen Malerei. Leipzig, 1922, pp. 398, 400, dates it about 1618–20.
François Monod. "La Galerie Altman au Metropolitan Museum de New-York (2e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 8 (November 1923), p. 297, ill. p. 299, dates it at the end of the Sevillian period.
August L. Mayer. Diego Velazquez. Berlin, 1924, pp. 44, 57, fig. 7, notes its similarity to the style of Herrera the Elder and the palette of Juan del Castillo.
Walter Gensel. Velazquez: Des Meisters Gemälde. Ed. Juan Allende-Salazar. Stuttgart, , p. 274, ill. p. 20, dates it about 1620–21.
Roberto Longhi. "Un san tomaso del Velazquez." Vita artistica 1 (January 1927), pp. 4, 10, compares it to a Supper at Emmaus attributed to both Caravaggio and Alonso Rodríguez (Museo Nazionale, Messina), but finds it more in the style of Caracciolo than Caravaggio.
Royal Cortissoz. "Paintings by Velasquez in America." International Studio 90 (May–August 1928), p. 38, ill. p. 35.
Franz Wolter. Der Junge Velasquez - The Young Velasquez. Munich, 1929, pp. 5–7, 27–28, compares it unfavorably with a previously unpublished picture of the same subject (pl. 3, private collection, Spain) which he ascribes to Velázquez and dates after the MMA painting.
Carl Justi. Diego Velazquez und sein Jahrhundert. [Zürich], 1933, no. 13, pl. 10, dates it about 1619.
August L. Mayer. Velazquez: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Pictures and Drawings. London, 1936, p. 6, no. 15, pl. 6, dates it about 1619–23.
Élie Faure. Velazquez: Gesamtwiedergabe seiner Gemälde. London, 1939, p. 21, no. 13, pl. 10, dates it about 1619.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 237–38, ill., dates it about 1620 and mentions the copy in the collection of Lord Breadalbane, Taymouth.
Hans Vollmer inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 34, Leipzig, 1940, p. 191, as from his early Seville period.
Harry B. Wehle. "A Great Velázquez." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (November 1942), p. 117, dates it about 1620 and observes it is "still in the cold, sculptural manner which the artist brought with him from Seville".
Enrique Lafuente. Velazquez. London, 1943, pp. 11, 18, no. 15, pl. 17, dates it about 1619–20; considers it "an important step in the evolution of Velazquian still life with figures"; observes that the type of Christ is similar to a type often used by Zurbaran, and that both may have evolved from the "saints with elongated faces, short beards and moustaches" used by the sculptor Martínez.
Margaret Breuning. "Metropolitan Re-Installs Its Treasures in Attractive Settings." Art Digest 18 (June 1, 1944), p. 5.
Harry B. Wehle. Letter to Elizabeth du Gúe Trapier. May 15, 1947, redates it to about 1625–27, citing Beruete's [Ref. 1891] association of the painting with the Bacchus in Madrid.
Elizabeth du Gué Trapier. Velázquez. New York, 1948, pp. 72, 133–36, 139, 392 nn. 214–15, figs. 84–86 (overall and details), as attributed to Velázquez; notes that "although authorship of this excellent picture has never been questioned, it must be noted that Velázquez rarely allowed his figures such dramatic gestures as are to be seen here or ever used this facial type of Christ"; sees the color choices and smoothness of the brushwork in this picture incongruous in the context of Velázquez's early style and finds no similarity between the head of one of the pilgrims here and that of a peasant in the Bacchus in Madrid [see Ref. Beruete 1891], and rejects Longhi's association of our Supper at Emmaus with Rodríguez's Emmaus painting in Messina [Ref. Longhi 1927].
Martin S. Soria. "An Unknown Early Painting by Velazquez." Burlington Magazine 91 (May 1949), p. 124, as "most assuredly and indubitably by Velazquez"; notes that it strongly influenced Mateo Gilarte's canvas of the same subject [Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo].
Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 230, no. 124, colorpl. 124, dates it about 1620.
José Ortega y Gasset. Velazquez. New York, 1953, p. 54, pl. 16, as dated 1619–27.
Margaretta M. Salinger. Velazquez. New York, 1954, pp. 3–4, pl. 2.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), p. 4.
Bernardino de Pantorba. La vida y la obra de Velázquez: Estudio biográfico y crítico. Madrid, 1955, pp. 77–78, no. 20, ill. (overall and detail), dates it about 1620 and states that the canvas must have been cut on both sides, since the copy (formerly Breadalbane collection) shows a larger scene.
Kurt Gerstenberg. Diego Velazquez. [Munich], , pp. 80–82, 251 n. 71, fig. 71, dates it about 1629–30, after the artist's first Italian journey, commenting on the influence of Caravaggio, in particular his Supper at Emmaus compositions in Milan [Brera] and London [National Gallery].
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 319, no. 2826, dates it 1620–23.
Martin Soria in George Kubler and Martin Soria. Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal and their American Dominions, 1500 to 1800. Baltimore, 1959, p. 255, as the last and one of the most accomplished works of Velázquez's Sevillian period.
Martin S. Soria. "Velázquez and Tristán." Varia velazqueña: Homenaje a Velázquez en el III centenario de su muerte, 1660–1960. Ed. Antonio Gallego y Burín. Madrid, 1960, vol. 1, p. 459; vol. 2, pl. 28, comments that this painting marks the transition from Velázquez's first style in Seville (1617–20) to his early Madrid period (1622–29); sees the influence of Luis Tristán, particularly in the handling of the drapery.
Fernando Chueca Goitia. "El espacio en la pintura de Velázquez." Varia velazqueña: Homenaje a Velázquez en el III centenario de su muerte, 1660–1960. Ed. Antonio Gallego y Burín. Madrid, 1960, vol. 1, p. 156; vol. 2, pl. 28.
José López-Rey. "Pincelada e imagen en Velázquez." Varia velazqueña: Homenaje a Velázquez en el III centenario de su muerte, 1660–1960. Ed. Antonio Gallego y Burín. Madrid, 1960, vol. 1, p. 204; vol. 2, pl. 28, dates it about 1627 or 1628.
J.J. Martín González. "Velázquez, pintor religioso." Goya (July–October 1960), p. 30, ill. p. 20, observes its similarity to works of the Italian masters, particularly the school of Caravaggio; notes that the disciples were intentionally portrayed as common in order to idealize the figure of Christ.
Bernardino de Pantorba. "Cuadros perdidos para España." Mundo hispánico [issue devoted to Velázquez] 14 (February 1961), p. 66.
José López-Rey. Velázquez: A Catalogue Raisonné of His Oeuvre. London, 1963, pp. 45, 88, 128, no. 19, pl. 47, dates our picture 1628–29 and catalogues the workshop copy from the Breadalbane collection (no. 20, pl. 169); comments on the similarity between one of the disciples' faces and the face of a figure in the background of the Prado Bacchus.
José Camón Aznar. "Algunas precisiones sobre Velázquez." Goya (March–April 1963), pp. 282–83, figs. 3, 5 (overall and detail), compares it with the Emmaus composition by Rodríguez in Messina and suggests that our picture might be a work by Rodríguez from about 1620.
José Camón Aznar. Velázquez. Madrid, 1964, vol. 1, pp. 255–60, ill. (overall and detail), attributes it to Velázquez between 1622–23, before the Prado's Bacchus, but again raises the possibility of an attribution to Rodríguez; compares the figure of Christ with that in Gilarte's Supper at Emmaus in Toledo, observing that Gilarte's work may have been inspired by Velázquez, or that both works may be based on an Italian model, since Gilarte was in Rome in his youth.
Leo Steinberg. "José López-Rey, Velázquez: A Catalogue Raisonné of His Oeuvre." Art Bulletin 47 (June 1965), pp. 281, 283, doubts the attribution to Velázquez, citing Trapier [Ref. 1948], and adds his own misgivings about the composition's flatness and lack of tension.
René Gimpel. Diary of an Art Dealer. English ed. New York, 1966, p. 303, describes the sale of this picture to Altman in 1910.
José López-Rey. Velázquez' Work and World. London, 1968, p. 53, pl. 52, as from about the same time as the Prado's Bacchus, which he dates 1628–29.
P.M. Bardi. L'opera completa di Velázquez. Milan, 1969, p. 89, no. 21, colorpl. 8, dates it about 1620.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 171 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Francis Haskell. "The Benjamin Altman Bequest." Metropolitan Museum Journal 3 (1970), pp. 271–72, fig. 11.
Neil MacLaren revised and expanded by Allan Braham. National Gallery Catalogues: The Spanish School. London, 1970, p. 116 n. 3, notes brushmarks on the underpainting where Velázquez wiped his brush [see also Ref. Mallory 1997].
Everett Fahy. "Juan de Pareja by Diego Velázquez: A History of the Portrait and its Painter." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 29, part 2 (June 1971), unpaginated, fig. 1, as The Supper at Emmaus, a "typical early work" painted by the time Velázquez was twenty.
Denys Sutton, ed. Letters of Roger Fry. New York, 1972, vol. 1, pp. 279–280, 282, letter nos. 215 (January 3, 1907), 216 (January 11, 1907), 219 (March 5, 1907).
José Gudiol. Velázquez, 1599–1660. New York, 1974, pp. 74, 326, no. 29, figs. 48 (color), 50 (detail), dates it about 1622–23, just after Velázquez's first visit to Madrid, but before he moved there in 1623, based on its considerable evolution from his earlier works; comments on the contrast between the idealized type of Christ versus the pilgrims, who seem to be "individuals chosen at random from the common mass of humanity—almost as if they were characters from one of his early 'bodegones'"; sees affinities with Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus (National Gallery, London).
Velázquez. Paris, 1974, pp. 38–40, ill. [English edition, pp. 26–27, 30–31, fig. 11], dates it 1620 and calls it an "unexpected work" in the extravagant gestures of the pilgrims and the insipid face of Christ, a work that "does not indicate any particular talent for religious painting".
Julián Gállego. Velázquez en Sevilla. 1st ed. Seville, 1974, pp. 101, 117, no. 20, cites different dates assigned to the work; calls it a disconcerting picture, in technique and color, noting that Camón Aznar [Ref. 1963] tentatively attributed it to Rodríguez.
José Camón Aznar. Summa artis: Historia general del arte. Vol. 25, La pintura española del siglo XVII. 2nd ed. Madrid, 1978, p. 145, calls it "attributed to Velázquez"; mentions it in relation to Gilarte's painting of the subject in Toledo.
José López-Rey. Velázquez: The Artist as a Maker, with a Catalogue Raisonné of His Extant Works. Lausanne, 1979, pp. 44, 100, 284, no. 42, p. 285, pl. 111, dates it 1628–29 and notes that although the copy shows an extended composition, this does not "necessarily imply" that the original canvas was cut down [see Ref. Pantorba 1955]; observes that copies of 17th century paintings were sometimes altered to conform to a different spatial sensibility.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 328–29, fig. 592.
Marianna Haraszti-Takács. Spanish Genre Painting in the Seventeenth Century. Budapest, 1983, p. 89, fig. 15, notes that it is "conceived in the same spirit" as Velázquez's non-religious genre paintings.
Jonathan Brown. Velázquez: Painter and Courtier. New Haven, 1986, pp. 56, 278, no. 11, pl. 62, as one of four extant religious pictures by Velázquez painted after 1623; comments on its poor state of preservation and calls it a hybrid work, combining the rustic figure types of the Seville period with an Italianate emphasis on gesture as a means of dramatic expression, the latter being "only imperfectly assimilated".
Maurice Sérullaz with the collaboration of Christian Pouillon. Velázquez. New York, 1987, p. 24, fig. 27, dates it 1628–29; generally discusses Velázquez's approach to religious painting as "marked by a cautious accuracy," rooted in human experience rather than the mystical.
Julián Gállego. Velázquez. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 84–87, no. 6, ill. (color), notes that scholars accept it as an autograph work; emphasizes the originality of the composition and color in comparison to paintings of this subject by Velázquez's contemporaries and to Velázquez's own works of the period; dates it to Velázquez's Seville period, between trips to Madrid.
Michael Frede. "Fictions of Truth: Velázquez at the Metropolitan Museum." Arts Magazine 64 (April 1990), p. 64, comments upon the "love for the perceptible detail" in Velázquez's early paintings, observing that the tablecloth in this picture "with its folds and crimps and texture, is extremely sensual".
Odile Delenda. Velázquez, peintre religieux. Geneva, 1993, pp. 38, 55, colorpl. 6, compares our figure of Christ to that in Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus (National Gallery, London); notes that the disciples shown here are examples of the popular types that often appeared in works from the beginning of the 17th century depicting the "sacralisation" of the everyday.
José López-Rey. Velázquez. Cologne, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 69, 154, 189; vol. 2, pp. 100–01, no. 42, ill. (color), dates it 1628–29.
Nina Ayala Mallory. "Una observación técnica acerca de Velázquez." Goya (January-February 1997), pp. 219–20, fig. 7 (detail), comments on Velázquez's habit of cleaning his brush on the background of his canvases and notes that although the awkwardness of this composition has led to doubt about its attribution, the presence of these distinctive brushmarks provides evidence of his hand.
Maurizio Marini. Velázquez. Milan, 1997, pp. 53, 153, no. 28, ill. pp. 52, 53 (color, overall and detail), 153, dates it 1620 and comments on its affinities with Caravaggio's "Supper at Emmaus" in the National Gallery, London.
Miguel Morán Turina and Isabel Sánchez Quevedo. Velázquez: Catálogo completo. Madrid, 1999, pp. 94–95, no. 39, ill. (color).
Fernando Marías. Velázquez: Pintor y criado del rey. Madrid, 1999, p. 96, fig. 57 (color), believes it was painted after Velázquez's visit to Rome and sees in its dynamic and dramatic composition the influence of Caravaggio's paintings with the story of Saint Matthew (church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome); erroneously dates the painting "1529–31" in the caption [presumably sic for 1629–31];.
Jorge Montoro, ed. Velázquez: El pintor de la luz. Madrid, 2001, p. 289, ill. (color), dates the picture 1619–31 and notes that the disparity of influences observed in it by critics has led to disagreement about its dating; believes it could just as easily date from the Seville period as from after Velázquez's first trip to Italy, since he could have absorbed Italian influences from seeing collections in Madrid.
Fernando Marías inVelázquez. Exh. cat., Palazzo Ruspoli, Rome. Milan, 2001, p. 90, fig. 6 (color), discusses it among other early religious pictures with problematic chronology; dates it about 1628–32.
Amador Schüller Pérez. La patología en la pintura de Velázquez. Madrid, , p. 34.
Jonathan Brown. "Velázquez and Italy." The Cambridge Companion to Velázquez. Ed. Suzanne L. Stratton-Pruitt. Cambridge, 2002, p. 45, ill., mentions this picture—painted "between 1623, when he was 'pintor real', and 1629"—as an example of Velázquez's early deficiencies in composing a convincing historical narrative; notes that the artist "is clearly attempting to inject movement and drama into the composition although his success is limited. Each figure seems to inhabit his own world, and again the definition of space and the placement of the figures within it is awkward".
Maribel Bandrés Oto. La moda en la pintura: Velázquez usos y costumbres del siglo XVII. Pamplona, 2002.
Victor Bergasa. "Un écrivain de la fin du XIXe siècle face à Velázquez: Jacinto Octavio Picón." Velázquez aujourd'hui. Ed. Geneviève Barbé-Coquelin de Lisle. Anglet, France, 2002, p. 246.
Jane Boyd Philip F. Esler. Visuality and Biblical Text: Interpreting Velázquez' "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" as a Test Case. Vol. 26, Florence, 2004, pp. 134, 136–37, ill. (color), notes that the knife and its shadow, depicted on the edge of the table in this picture, creates one continuous form read by the viewer as a "hieroglyph".
Maurizio Marini. Velázquez, consonanze e dissonanze: Marie de Rohan, duchessa di Chevreuse alla corte di Madrid. Venice, 2004, pp. 10, 27.
Charlotte Hale. "Dating Velázquez's 'The Supper at Emmaus'." Metropolitan Museum Journal 40 (2005), pp. 67–78, figs. 1, 3–4, 6 (overall, x-radiograph mosaic, and infrared reflectogram details), colorpl. 7, notes that the type of canvas (called 'mantelillo' or 'mantel') used for this painting was "woven with intermittent clusters of small diamonds," and was used during the seventeenth century in Naples, Toledo, and Seville; adds that all the works of Velázquez in which such patterned canvases have been identified are from his Seville period, and have in common religious subject matter; also notes that the "iron earth or naturally occurring heterogeneous mixture of minerals colored by iron oxide . . ." is identical to the clay grounds the artist used in other works of the Seville period, and is found only in the pictures he produced in Seville; mentions other stylistic and technical details, all pointing to the artist's Seville period; notes that the paint is "handled with great economy of means and extraordinary facility . . . [and that] such skill is extremely rare and has to be taken into account by those who would question the attribution to Velázquez; comments on the picture's severely compromised state, common in his Seville period works, due to the clay grounds used by the artist at this time; believes the picture can be dated with great precision to 1622–23.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 31–32, fig. 31 (Altman gallery photograph).
Santiago Alcolea i Gil. Velázquez. Barcelona, 2007, p. 23, fig. 16 (color), dates it 1622–23 and suggests that the dynamic Caravaggesque composition may be "the fruit of what Velázquez observed in Madrid" while he was there briefly in the middle of 1622.
Javier Portús inVelázquez's Fables: Mythology and Sacred History in the Golden Age. Ed. Javier Portús. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2007, pp. 17, 19, 47, refers to it as a work from Velázquez's "early years at court, while he was still indebted to the world of Seville".
Gabriele Finaldi inVelázquez's Fables: Mythology and Sacred History in the Golden Age. Ed. Javier Portús. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2007, p. 176, fig. 57 (color), believes it was produced shortly before the artist's departure for Italy in 1629 [but the picture is dated 1622–23 in the caption].
Alfonso Pleguezuelo. "Rufina, mártir y alfarera." En torno a Santa Rufina: Velázquez de lo íntimo a lo cortesano. Ed. Benito Navarrete Prieto. [Seville], , pp. 50, 297, refers to the dish at the center of the table as a "humble white Triana-ware plate," of a kind that appears frequently in Velázquez's paintings of this period, including "The Luncheon" (Hermitage, Saint Petersburg) and a painting of the same subject in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.
Ignacio Cano. "Apuntes para la historia del coleccionismo de la obra de Velázquez en Sevilla." En torno a Santa Rufina: Velázquez de lo íntimo a lo cortesano. Ed. Benito Navarrete Prieto. [Seville], , pp. 152, 345, notes that the copy of our picture in the sale of Louis-Philippe measured 120 x 154 cm and concludes that our original has been considerably reduced in size.
Javier Portús. "Elogio de la calidad (la construcción del catálogo razonado de Velázquez)." En torno a Santa Rufina: Velázquez de lo íntimo a lo cortesano. Ed. Benito Navarrete Prieto. [Seville], , pp. 271, 399.
Fernando Checa. Velázquez: The Complete Paintings. [Antwerp], 2008, p. 99, ill. (color), due to its compositional awkwardness, interest in still life, and the realism of the pilgrim's faces, dates it 1628–29, immediately before Velázquez's first trip to Italy.
Salvador Salort Pons. Diego Velázquez: Pintor, 1599–1660. Madrid, 2008, pp. 90–91, fig. 45 (color), dates it 1628–29, noting its similarity to Velázquez's Seville paintings and to the work of north European Caravaggists; comments on compositional weaknesses, such as the failure to suggest space between the two pilgrims, creating the impression that one has been superimposed on the other.
The frame is from southern Spain and dates to about 1600 (see Additional Images, figs. 1–3). This frame is made of pine and is carved with distinctive bold form. It is water gilded and painted. The bead-and-reel ornament at the inner molding is within a row of whimsical spined acanthus leaves with lateral fluting which ascend an ogee cove and terminate in frond leaves at the corners. A knull-and-dart ornament wraps the top edge and falls back to a pearling row before the back edge. Though this frame has been reduced slightly in height and at the corners, it retains much of its original gilding and blue paint. The frame was put on the picture in the 1980s.
[Timothy Newbery with Cynthia Moyer 2015; further information on this frame can be found in the Department of European Paintings files]