Zurbarán, Francisco de

Zurbarán, Francisco de fränthēsˈkō ᵺā tho͝orbäränˈ [key], 1598–1664, Spanish baroque painter, active mainly at Llerena, Madrid, and Seville. One of the finest painters of 17th-century Spain, surpassed only by the great Velázquez, Zurbarán worked mostly for ecclesiastical patrons. His early paintings, including Crucifixion (1627; Art Inst., Chicago), St. Michael (Metropolitan Mus.), and St. Francis (City Art Mus., St. Louis), often suggest the austere simplicity of wooden sculpture. The figures, placed close to the picture surface, are strongly modeled in dramatic light against dark backgrounds, indicating the influence of Caravaggio. They were clearly painted as altarpieces or devotional objects. In the 1630s the realistic style seen in his famous Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas (1631; Seville) yields to a more mystical expression in works such as the Adoration of the Shepherds (1638; Grenoble); in this decade he was influenced by Ribera's figural types and rapid brushwork. While in Seville, Zurburán was clearly influenced by Velázquez. After c.1640 the simple power of Zurbarán's work lessened as Murillo's influence on his painting increased (e.g., Virgin and Child with St. John, Fine Arts Gall., San Diego, Calif.). There are works by Zurbarán in the Hispanic Society of America, New York City; the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

See study by M. S. Soria (repr. 1955).

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