Friday, January 21, 2011

Francisco de Zurbaran

Saint Serapion
Oil on canvas
47 1/2 x 40 1/2 in. (120 x 103 cm)
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut

Francisco de Zurbaran's apprenticeship was undertaken in Seville, where he met Velazquez and became one of the city's official painters. His commission to decorate the king's palace in Madrid was most probably the result of his continuing friendship with the older, and more successful, Spanish artist.

The Immaculate Conception
c. 1628-1630
Oil on canvas
54 3/4 x 41 in. (139 x 104 cm)
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Zurbaran was chiefly a portrait painter and his religious subjects, depicting meditating saints, found favour in southern Spain's many monastic and church institutions. From 1628, he worked on a number of paintings to be sent to monasteries in the Spanish colony of Guadalupe. After 1640 his austere, harsh, hard edged style was unfavourably compared to the sentimental religiosity of Murillo and Zurbaran's reputation declined. In 1658, he moved to Madrid in search of work and renewed his contact with Velazquez. Zurbaran died in poverty and obscurity.

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