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Francisco de Zurbarán


A Cup of Water and a Rose

Saint Francis in Meditation

Saint Francis in Meditation

Saint Margaret of Antioch

The Annunciation

Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas

Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas , detail

Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas , detail

Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Shepherds


Laying out of St. Bonaventure

Praying Virgin Mary

Penitent St. Francis

Christ on the Cross

The Holy Face (sweat cloth of Christ)

The St. Bonaventure receives the envoys

Death of Hercules

The defense of Cádiz

Defense of Cadiz , detail

Angel with censer

Angel with censer

Birth of the Virgin

The blissful Sera Pius

Vision of St. Pedro Nolasco from St. Peter

Vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem

Mercy of Fra Martin de Vizcaya

Mercy of Fra Martin de Vizcaya , detail

Flagellation of St. Jerome by the angels

Temptation of Fra Diego de Orgaz

The Temptation of St. Jerome

St. Hugo in Charterhouse

St. Hugo in the Carthusian monastery , detail

Hercules fighting the Hydra Lernaean

Hercules destroying the Lion of Nemea

St. Agathe

St. Ambrose

St. Andrew

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Appolonia

Saint Bonaventure

St. Casilda of Toledo

St. Dorothy

St. Francis

St Gregory

St. Jerome

St. Jerome

Hll.Hieronymus , Paula Romana and Eustochium

St. Lawrence

St. Lucia

St. Luke as a painter before the Crucifix

St. Margaretha

St. Romanus and St. Barulas of Antioch

St. Rufina of Seville


St. Lorenzo


Kneeling St. Francis

Contemplation of the Infant Jesus

Contemplation of the boy Jesus , detail

Mary as a girl

Meditating St. Francis with skull

Portrait of Fra Francisco Zumel

Portrait of Fra Gonzalo de Illescas

Portrait of Fra Pedro Machado

Quince on a pewter plate

Cups and vases

Plate with lemons , oranges and basket with Rose

Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception , detail

Immaculate Conception and two clergymen

Vision of Alonso Rodriguez

Vision of Fra Pedro de Salamanca

Francisco de Zurbarán (November 7, 1598 – August 27, 1664) was a Spanish painter. He is known primarily for his religious paintings depicting monks, nuns, and martyrs, and for his still-lifes. Zurbarán gained the nickname Spanish Caravaggio, owing to the forceful, realistic use of chiaroscuro in which he excelled.

Early life

He was born at Fuente de Cantos in Extremadura, the son of Luis Zurbarán, a haberdasher, and his wife, Isabel Márquez. In childhood he set about imitating objects with charcoal. In 1614 his father sent him to Seville to apprentice for three years with Pedro Díaz de Villanueva, an artist of whom very little is known.[2]


It is unknown whether Zurbarán had the opportunity to copy the paintings of Michelangelo da Caravaggio; at any rate, he adopted Caravaggio's realistic use of chiaroscuro. The painter who may have had the greatest influence on his characteristically severe compositions was Juan Sánchez Cotán.[3] Polychrome sculpture—which by the time of Zurbarán's apprenticeship had reached a level of sophistication in Seville that surpassed that of the local painters—provided another important stylistic model for the young artist; the work of Juan Martínez Montañés is especially close to Zurbarán's in spirit.[3]

He painted directly from nature, and he made great use of the lay-figure in the study of draperies, in which he was particularly proficient. He had a special gift for white draperies; as a consequence, the houses of the white-robed Carthusians are abundant in his paintings. To these rigid methods, Zurbarán is said to have adhered throughout his career, which was prosperous, wholly confined to Spain, and varied by few incidents beyond those of his daily labour. His subjects were mostly severe and ascetic religious vigils, the spirit chastising the flesh into subjection, the compositions often reduced to a single figure. The style is more reserved and chastened than Caravaggio's, the tone of color often quite bluish. Exceptional effects are attained by the precisely finished foregrounds, massed out largely in light and shade.

Later life

While in Seville, Zurbarán married Leonor de Jordera, by whom he had several children. Towards 1630 he was appointed painter to Philip IV; and there is a story that on one occasion the sovereign laid his hand on the artist's shoulder, saying "Painter to the king, king of painters." After 1640 his austere, harsh, hard edged style was unfavorably compared to the sentimental religiosity of Murillo and Zurbarán's reputation declined. It was only in 1658, late in Zurbarán's life that he moved to Madrid in search of work and renewed his contact with Velázquez. Zurbarán died in poverty and obscurity.

Artistic legacy

In 1627 he painted the great altarpiece of St. Thomas Aquinas, now in the Seville museum; it was executed for the church of the college of that saint there. This is Zurbarán's largest composition, containing figures of Christ, the Madonna, various saints, Charles V with knights, and Archbishop Deza (founder of the college) with monks and servitors, all the principal personages being more than life-size. It had been preceded by numerous pictures of the screen of St. Peter Nolasco in the cathedral.

In Santa Maria de Guadalupe he painted various large pictures, eight of which relate to the history of St. Jerome; and in the church of Saint Paul, Seville, a famous figure of the Crucified Saviour, in grisaille, creating an illusion of marble. In 1633 he finished the paintings of the high altar of the Carthusians in Jerez. In the palace of Buenretiro, Madrid are four large canvases representing the Labours of Hercules, an unusual instance of non-Christian subjects from the hand of Zurbarán. A fine example of his work is in the National Gallery, London: a whole-length, life-sized figure of a kneeling Franciscan holding a skull. His principal scholars were Bernabe de Ayala and the brothers Polanco (painters).

Auckland Castle

In 1756 Richard Trevor who was Bishop of Durham from 1752 to 1771 bought a series of 12 of the 13 portraits of Jacob and his 12 sons and these are still in Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, near Durham, England. The paintings were on a ship that was seized at sea and were then sold to the bishop for £125. The portrait of Benjamin was sold separately to the Duke of Ancaster and hangs in Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincs. The bishop had to be content with a copy by Arthur Proud.

In 2001, the Church Commissioners voted to sell the paintings which have a £20m valuation, but relented until a review in 2010.


1. ^ Saint Luke as a Painter before Christ on the Cross. Humanities Web. Retrieved 30 September 2007.
2. ^ Gállego and Gudiol 1987, p. 13.
3. ^ a b Gállego and Gudiol 1987, p. 15.

* Gállego, Julián; Gudiol, José (1987). Zurbarán. London: Alpine Fine Arts Collection, Ltd. ISBN 0-88168-115-6
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Artist from Spain

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

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