Allegory of the Holy Sacrament

Allegory of the Holy Sacrament

About 1690
Juan Correa, Mexican, c. 1645-1716
Born: Mexico City, Mexico
Work Locations: Mexico
Oil paint on canvas
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer

Juan Correa, Allegory of the Holy Sacrament, about 1690. Oil paint on canvas; 64½ × 41⅝ in. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2015.570.

image height: 64 1/2 in, 163.8300 cm; image width: 41 5/8 in, 105.7275 cm; frame height: 83 7/8 in, 213.0425 cm; frame width: 51 1/4 in, 130.1750 cm; frame depth: 2 1/2 in, 6.3500 cm
Lower right corner: “Juan Correa Fac.”
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art
This object is currently on view

This painting was made in the late 1600s by the New Spanish painter Juan Correa (c. 1645-1716), who signed his name along the lower right edge of the canvas. Together with Cristóbal de Villalpando (c. 1649–1714), Correa is considered to be one of the most important and prolific painters active in mid-colonial Mexico. Born in Mexico City about 1645, Correa was the son of a Spanish-descended surgeon and a freed woman of African descent. Over the course of his long career, which spanned from the last third of the 1600s until his death in 1716, Correa produced more than five hundred paintings for churches and private patrons in and around Mexico City. This impressive output suggests Correa led a sizable painting workshop that employed numerous assistants, apprentices, and servants. Several of Correa’s relatives, including his brother Joseph (also called José) and his son Miguel, were also painters and likely assisted Correa in his workshop. 

An example of one of Correa’s numerous religious works, the painting’s visual allegory relates to Catholic themes of Christ’s sacrificial death, the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the doctrine of transubstantiation. Although it is not known if the composition derives from a print or was invented by Correa, the subject draws upon several related iconographic traditions, like the Mystic Winepress and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the painting, a flock of sheep symbolizing the faithful congregate around a baptismal font and look up in adoration. Kneeling on a blue orb, a symbol of the universality of the Church’s power, Christ holds in his hands grapes on a vine that grow out of the wound on his chest. As Christ squeezes the grapes, his own blood falls onto a silver liturgical platter held by the pope. Directly behind stands a wooden crucifix, a symbol of Christ’s death on the cross, with a banderole containing the Latin words: “PATER IGNOSCE ILLIS.” This phrase refers to Christ’s prayer on the cross, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Given its complex theological and liturgical themes, this painting was likely made by Correa for a church or other religious institution.

--Sabena Kull, 2017-18 Mayer Fellow for Spanish Colonial Art

Known Provenance
Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • "Splendors of Baroque Mexico" at the Denver Art Museum, Dec 1, 1984- Jan 27, 1985
  • Exhibited "The Body of Christ in the Art of Europe and New Spain, 1150-1800," Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Dec. 21, 1997-Apr. 12, 1998
  • "Blood: art, power, politics, and pathology", November 11, 2001 - January 27, 2002, Frankfurt, Germany