Naturalistic style combined with religious motifs is the most prominent feature of a Spanish Baroque artist – Francisco de Zurbarán (c. 1598 – 1664). He was born in Fuente de Cantos in Spain where his talent as a painter was revealed. In order to maintain the sufficient potential for art, he was sent to Seville to undergo the study of the outstanding artist of that time – Pedro Diaz de Villanueva in 1614.
After finishing his apprenticeship, he made a niche for himself among the most notable Spanish Baroque painters. His life got more saturation since he managed to succeed in personal life as well. Having moved to Llerena he got married and, so as to maintain a family, he worked as the hire-artist. He remarried in 1625 due to his wife’s early death. The second marriage served as a pushing force for his recognition in the artist community. Therefore, he saluted his popularity having returned to Seville.
Being a highly religious person, he devoted most of his drawings to the religion. This passion assisted him in making his masterpiece ‘Christ on a Cross’ for a Dominican monastery. One can claim that his career was at its peak in the 1630s. His life had lots of fluctuating periods, but his public recognition as a leading Spanish artist cannot be underestimated.
Arts Made by Francisco de Zurbarán
Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas
As it has already been mentioned, the most prosperous years for Francisco de Zurbarán as a Spanish Baroque painter were those of the 1630s. ‘Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas’ is the magnificent altarpiece of Francisco de Zurbarán in an exalted manner. It is the most prominent artwork composition of his since a number of saints are depicted: Christ, the Madonna, Charles V as well as Archbishop Deza. The latter is the prime mover of a college for which the painting was executed for.
The Labours of Hercules
Though Francisco de Zurbarán was a profoundly religious figure, one of his creations represents some mythological items, so as ‘The Labours of Hercules.’ The drawing is housed in the palace of Buen Retiro in Madrid. It consists of four large canvases of the sophisticated habit of Francisco de Zurbarán.
His prominence was appreciated in the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. This fact is supported by a number of exhibitions from New York to Paris.
Key Ideas in Painting
As far as religion is concerned, most of Francisco de Zurbarán ideas are based on religious orders for monasteries which became a substantial source for the painter.
Some naturalistic elements represent his artistic viewpoint. He is meticulous in details and their religious meaning. Moreover, a significant number of Baroque ideas rooted in Francisco de Zurbarán self-portraying. He depicts himself as a servant of art and religion which makes the observer sure that his talent reveals his ideological position.
Because of being theologically awe-inspired Francisco de Zurbarán’s drawings are rather simple but deep in terms of sense. His self-portrait shows how skillful he is in displaying light and shadow to bring the image closer to life.