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Zurbaran, The Master Of Artistic Detail



Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán is well known for his still-life paintings and religious works featuring nuns, monks, and martyrs. Due to his skillful use of chiaroscuro, Zurbarán earned the nickname \”Spanish Caravaggio.\” He is occasionally compared to the somewhat older Italian painter Caravaggio because of his talent for rendering realistic tone contrasts, or chiaroscuro. Francisco de Zurbarán was born on November 7, 1598, probably in Fuente de Cantos, Spain. He studied painting while still a teen, and soon he was producing artwork for monasteries in Spain. Zurbarán later sent his artwork to the New World as well. In those days, religious organisations were a major source of contracts for artists, and once Zurbarán arrived in Seville, he went after them. For a Dominican monastery, he painted \”Christ on a Cross\” in 1627. This masterpiece established Zurbarán as a reputable and in-demand painter. In 1629, the council of Seville extended to him an offer to remain in the city.


The majority of Zurbarán\’s work featured religious imagery because he mostly produced pieces for monastic orders. Many of his paintings that are theologically inspired are straightforward but emotionally powerful pieces that display his naturalistic technique and expert use of light and shadow. The magnificent still life paintings \”Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose\” (1633) and a \”Labors of Hercules\” series painted for the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid are among the few secular works by Zurbarán. The massive altarpiece of St. Thomas Aquinas, which Zurbarán created in 1627 for the college of the same name in Seville, was possibly his most well-known work and undoubtedly his largest. It features a vast number of individuals, including Christ and saints as well as the founder of the college in Seville. Zurbarán had created a sizable number of pieces for the St. Peter Nolasco screen in the Seville Cathedral.


Zurbarán also painted a number of large pictures in other churches in Seville.  Perhaps the most well-known of them is the grisaille-produced figure of Christ on the cross for St. Paul\’s Church, which gives the appearance that it is made of marble. Even while practically all of his works dealt with Christian themes, there were a few exceptions, such as his Labours of Hercules for the Buenretiro Palace in Madrid. Some of his most famous pieces have travelled abroad, including paintings of Jacob and his sons that are shown in Auckland Castle in northern England. His perfect, full-length portraits of the most adored female saints are among Zurbaran\’s most well-known and well-liked works. He portrays them as notable women from his native Spain. Thus their rich costumes give him opportunities as a colourist such as his monastic subjects fail to afford and It\’s challenging to pick one of them. The St. Elizabeth is the most ornate and feminine. The St. Mathilda in Strasbourg is better still because of its Spanish patriotism. All of the paintings of this type are done without accessories and with the most basic backgrounds in order to give the personage and the expensive garment their proper due. It should be mentioned that the effect is equally powerful and wealthy.


Zurbarán became well-known for his use of stark contrasts between light foregrounds and dark backgrounds to produce emotive effects. This approach demonstrated not only Caravaggio\’s influence, but also the dramatic tenebrism method, which frequently depicts human outlines and face features in shadow. Although different from his contemporaries, his perspective on his subject—where the tangible merges with the ethereal—was nonetheless consistent with the Counter-Reformation theology of seventeenth-century Spain, which placed emphasis on the idea of the spiritual manifested in the material world.

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  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_de_Zurbar%C3%A1n
  2. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/zurbaran-francisco-de/
  3. https://biography.yourdictionary.com/francisco-de-zurbaran

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