About this artwork

Phillip considered 'La Gloria' to be his masterpiece. Its large scale, moving subject, dramatic lighting and composition, and vibrant colour, all contribute its impact. The body of the dead child, illuminated by candlelight, is seen through the door-way at the left, where the grieving mother sits in deep shadow. Friends try to console her, while the passing of the child's soul directly to heaven is celebrated in the brilliant sunshine. At the time of its purchase in 1897, this was the most expensive painting the National Gallery of Scotland had ever bought.

  • title: 'La Gloria': A Spanish Wake
  • accession number: NG 836
  • artist: John PhillipScottish (1817 - 1867)
  • gallery: Scottish National Gallery(On Display)
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Death
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1864
  • measurements: 145.40 x 219.20 cm (framed: 182.50 x 257.00 x 10.50 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased with a contribution from John Ritchie Findlay 1897
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

John Phillip

John Phillip

Phillip's first visit to Spain in 1851 inspired the paintings which brought him royal favour. Prince Albert and Queen Victoria gave each other paintings of Spanish themes by Phillip as Christmas gifts. He was born in Aberdeen and pursued his artistic education at the Royal Academy Schools in London. Inspired by the works of Sir David Wilkie, he began by painting scenes of Scottish life but then also followed Wilkie's example by travelling to Spain. He made three visits between 1851 and 1861, and gathered material, strongly influenced by Velázquez and Murillo, which was to transform his work.