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Juan de Valdés Leal “In Ictu Oculi” & “Finis Gloriae Mundi” (1670-1672)
The Brotherhood of Charity (La Caridad) was founded in Seville in 1565, one of many religious confraternities active in Spain.
Its goal began as the provision of proper Christian burial for the poor, but they eventually established a hospital for paupers. There were groups of men who gathered for social and charitable functions, much like today’s Knights of Columbus or Rotary Club.
Patron of the Brotherhood Don Miguel de Manara commissioned these artworks to decorate the hospital that his confraternity established. Members of the confraternity would pool resources, and were therefore able to commission such wondrous works as this pair of paintings by Juan de Valdes Leal.
The location of the works of Juan Valdes Leal (1622-1690), just by the entrance, means that visitors are first confronted by the grim warning they provide against earthly vanities, before walking along the “path to salvation” past the Seven Acts of Mercy. This gruesome pair also must be passed on the way out of the chapel, a stern reminder not to forget the lessons learned inside.