The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza offers visitors a survey of Francisco de Zurbarán’s work, from his earliest commissions to key works from his mature period; a new vision of this Spanish Golden Age painter through the presence of previously unexhibited canvases or ones recently rediscovered over the past few years and not previously seen in Spain, a fresh assessment of his work which has enriched our knowledge of the artist and his oeuvre.
A contemporary of Velázquez, Zurbarán’s realistic but mystical vision and his unique manner of approaching his subject matter has made him a key artist whose importance was recognised by modern art trends of the 20th century.
The exhibition will juxtapose his work with that of his most talented pupils, the latter shown together in one gallery, and with that of his son Juan de Zurbarán, represented by his sophisticated still lifes. Mythological compositions and portraits complete the extensive representation of religious works in the seven galleries of the exhibition, which is jointly curated by Odile Delenda, art historian and specialist in Zurbarán, and Mar Borobia, Head of Old Master Painting at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
This votive image was wide-spread in seventeenth-century Spain. It represents an Agnus Dei or “Lamb of God,” in allusion to Christ’s sacrificial death to save humanity. The straightforward composition consists exclusively of an image of the young animal with its legs bound, lying on a windowsill and brightly light by a single light source.
Born to Die + The Lord of Burleigh by Edmund Blair Leighton Lana Del Rey (EP) + The Proposal by Frederick Morgan Lana Del Ray + Portrait Of A Woman, Said To Be Adrienne Lecouvreur by (after) Alexis-Simon Belle Kill Kill + St Casilda by Francisco de Zurbaran Ultraviolence + Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen by Joshua Reynolds
The worship of the Immaculate Virgin is one of seventeenth-century Spain’s identity traits, especially following a considerable argument between her defenders and her detractors, which took place in Seville in 1616. From then on, that city became one of the country’s leading conceptionist centers and its painters dedicated much of their energy to promote that devotion. Zurbarán was one of the most active artists in that sense. He made various works on that subject, like the present one, which is one of his earliest compositions. It depicts his characteristic girlish and ecstatic image of the Virgin.
She appears with her hands joined in prayer, surrounded by symbols of the litanies that recall the virtures accompanying the image of the Virgin.
The abundance of those complex signs, which must be understood theologically, offers the faithful two possible ways of approaching this work: that of the extremely complex doctrinal manifesto understood by a limited number of specialists, and the votive image of a handsome and childlike Mary whose appearance can awaken the fervor of even the least sophisticated believers.