Newly identified Velázquez masterpiece now on display

“The Education of the Virgin,” a painting that a former Yale curator determined last year to be an early masterpiece by 17th-century Spanish artist Diego Velázquez, is currently on exhibit at the Yale University Art Gallery for a brief period before its planned restoration.

The painting, which depicts the Virgin Mary learning to read, will be on view at the gallery through Feb. 20.

Once considered to be by an unknown artist from Seville, Spain, “The Education of the Virgin ” was identified as a Velázquez painting following extensive research by John Marciari, currently the curator of European art at the San Diego Museum of Art and formerly the Nina and Lee Griggs Associate Curator of Early European Art at the Yale University Art Gallery. Marciari, who holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale, concluded after six years of research that Velázquez created the work himself around 1617, making it one of his earliest works.

Velázquez (1599-1660) is considered the greatest painter of the Spanish Baroque period. He is known for his many portraits of the Spanish royal family and others, as well as for his renditions of scenes of historical and cultural significance. His art has influenced such artists as Manet, Picasso and Dalí.

“The Education of the Virgin” was donated to the gallery in 1925 by Henry Hotchkiss Townshend (1897, LL.B. 1901) and Dr. Raynham Townshend (1900S). The work was thought to have been in their family for at least 40 years and was in poor condition when it arrived at the Yale University Art Gallery.

The Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St., is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday (until 8 p.m. on Thursday through June), and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays. For more information, call 203-432-0600 or visit

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