Francisco De Zurbaran Biography | Oil Paintings
11-7-1598 Fuente de Cantos, ESP – 8-27-1664 Madrid, ESPBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
In childhood, Francisco de Zurbaran was drawing whatever objects he could find around the house, in charcoal on paper or walls. In 1614 at the age of sixteen, his father sent him to Seville to apprentice for three years with Pedro Díaz de Villanueva.
Francisco de Zurbarán began his artistic career, by signing his first contract in 1626 with a superior of the Dominican monastery San Pablo El Real in Seville, he agreed to deliver twenty-one paintings within an eight months period. This commission established Zurbarán as an artist.
In 1627 he painted the great altarpiece The Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas, this large painting measuring 15′×12′, was commissioned by the college of the church of St. Thomas Aquinas. This is Francisco de Zurbarán's biggest piece, containing figures of Christ, the Madonna, various saints, Charles V with knights, and Archbishop Deza with monks and servitors, all the key personages being larger than life-size. In June 1629 Francisco de Zurbarán was welcomed by the City Elders of Seville to move to their city, he had such a high reputation, that having him live in the Seville, would increase the artistic reputation and prestige of the city.
Francisco de Zurbaran Painting in Spain's Golden Age.
In the context of world art and literature, the seventeenth century was Spain's Siglo de Oro (Golden Century). It was indeed a glorious century, whose cultural achievements made the country an essential reference point for understanding that century. But, each artist expressed his own vision of the world, thus reflecting the range of emotions in Spanish Baroque Art.
Zubaran did not like dynamic compositions, but his static scenes and figures have a profound power and inner life that outweigh action and unfolding events. Typical of his works are his series of paintings of friars, saints, and Virgins, with intense expressions as in Santa Casilda, and frozen in expressive stances. His images of infant and young girl saints, wearing extravagant garments, are particularly fascinating (if not disturbing). They gaze at the viewer in surprise or even astonishment and are defined by a light reminiscent of Caravaggio.
It is doubtful Francisco de Zurbaran ever saw any paintings of Caravaggio since he never left Spain, but somehow he adopted Caravaggio's realistic use of chiaroscuro and tenebrism. Also, at this time, the still life genre was getting under way as a separate art form and starting to become popular, especially in the northern European countries. Yet, the rare though remarkable Spanish still life, depicted in a style that was both simple and austere, but imbued with powerful mysticism, by de Zurban and the specialist Sanchez Cotan, deserve special mention.
He was proficient at painting drapery and made great use of wooden models to study how draperies fell and folded in different situations, and white draperies in particular, as a result, the white-robed Carthusians are abundant in his paintings. Francisco de Zurbarán adhered to these rigid methods, throughout his career. He never left Spain, and while he painted he was prosperous, but Zurbarán died in poverty and obscurity.
Art Movement History: Baroque.
Artists Influencing Zurbaran: Pedro Díaz de Villanueva, Juan Sánchez Cotán, Caravaggio.
Painters Francisco de Zurbaran Influenced: Bernabé de Ayala.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.