From Art of Painting. On the whole an undistinguished painter who composed mostly large and derivative works, Pacheco trained Diego Velázquez as his apprentice and founded an influential arts academy in Seville.
In this most lovely mystery, the Immaculate Conception, the Lady should be painted in the flower of her youth, twelve or thirteen years of age, as a most beautiful young girl, with fine and serious eyes, a most perfect nose and mouth and roseate cheeks, wearing loose her most beautiful golden hair—in short with as much perfection as the human brush is capable of achieving. Man is possessed of two beauties—that of the body and that of the soul—and the Virgin was possessed of both without compare. In body she was a miracle, as St. Dionysus averred, and no other being so closely resembled her Son who was the model of all perfection. Other children may delight in reflecting the attributes of their father and mother who represent different principles. But Christ our Lord, not having any earthly father, resembled in everything His mother who, after her son, was the most beautiful thing that God created. She should be painted with a white tunic and a blue mantle, just as she once appeared to Doña Beatrice de Silva, a Portuguese lady, who later entered the Royal Convent of Santo Domingo in Toledo to found the Order of the Immaculate Conception, confirmed by Pope Julius II in 1511. She is clothed in the sun, an oval sun of whites and ochers must surround the whole image, sweetly fusing the latter with the sky. She is crowned with stars, twelve in all, arranged in an illuminated circle betwixt the rays that shine forth from her sacred forehead. The stars are painted as very light spots of pure, dry white excelling all rays in their brightness. An imperial crown should adorn her head which should not hide the stars. Beneath her feet we behold the moon. Although it is a solid planet, I myself rendered it light and translucent, hanging over the landscape as a half-moon with the extremities pointing downward. If I am not mistaken, I was probably the first to lend more majesty to these adornments, something in which others have since followed.
Translated by Zahira Veliz. © 1986 by Zahira Veliz. Used with permission of Cambridge University Press.