Zurbarán: Jacob and his Twelve Sons, Paintings from Auckland Castle, Meadows Museum, Dallas, USA, September 17, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Francisco de Zurbarán was born in Fuente de Cantos, in Western Spain, but spent most of his working life in Seville. Like Ribera, Zurbarán is also considered a Caravaggista (a follower of the Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, active 1571-1610) particularly for his exceptional use of chiaroscuro.
These 13 paintings (12 by Zurbarán and one a direct copy of the work by Zurbarán) are a visual narrative of Jacob’s deathbed act of bestowing a blessing on each son, foretelling their destinies and those of their tribes. Although each painting holds its own as an exceptional portrait, seeing the works together provides a unique experience for viewers, transporting them across history to make them a witness to that moment. At the Meadows, the paintings will be displayed together in one gallery.
It is not known who originally commissioned the series, but they were auctioned from the collection of a Jewish merchant named Benjamin Mendez in 1756. Richard Trevor, Bishop of Durham, acquired the paintings for Auckland Castle, seeing in the public presentation of these works an opportunity to make a statement about the need for social, political and religious understanding and tolerance between Christians and Jews in Great Britain.
While in the USA, the paintings will also undergo in-depth technical study for the first time at the Kimbell Art Museum. This will include the use of infrared reflectography, ultra-violet light, x-radiography and pigment analysis. The goals of this work are twofold: first, to gain a better understanding of Zurbarán’s artistic process by exploring this unique series of related works; and second, to identify any additional needs for their ongoing conservation and care after they return to the U.K.
Accompanying the exhibition and conservation research will be an illustrated catalogue containing scholarly essays exploring the series from various historical, religious and artistic perspectives. Dr. Mark A. Roglán, Director, Meadows Museum, is the scientific director of the project and has helped to gather contributions by Claire Barry, Director of Conservation, Kimbell Art Museum; Professor John Barton, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, Emeritus at Oxford University; Dr. Jonathan Brown, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Fine Arts at New York University; Dr. Christopher Ferguson, Curatorial, Conservation and Exhibitions Director, Auckland Castle; Dr. Susan Grace Galassi, Senior Curator, The Frick Collection; Akemi Herráez Vossbrink, PhD Candidate at the University of Cambridge; Alexandra Letvin, PhD Candidate at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Edward Payne, Senior Curator, Spanish Art, Auckland Castle. This exhibition and study have been co- organized by the Meadows Museum, SMU; The Frick Collection; and Auckland Castle; in association with the Kimbell Art Museum. A generous gift from The Meadows Foundation has made this exhibition and study possible, with additional support from the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica and the Center for Spain in America.
The Hermitage, Amsterdam, 28 November 2015 – 29 May 2016
More than sixty paintings and a rich collection of graphic works and applied arts masterpieces are on show.
Comprises a selection of predominantly Spanish, Italian and Early Netherlandish paintings and sculpture ranging in period from the Early Renaissance through until the late Baroque.
Link to the web catalogue
Link to the catalogue (page-turner version)
Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664), Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR), Brussels, 29 January – 25 May 2014. Transferred from the Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara. It is the first large exhibition (12 rooms) on the artist to be held outside Spain since the 1988 survey shown in New York and Paris. It displays several major works from private collections and a newly discovered painting Saint Anthony of Padua (1635-40), which was formerly in the nineteenth-century collection of the British vice-consul in Seville, Julian Williams, before it was presented by a later owner to the parish church of Étréham in Normandy, where it was recently discovered and conserved for display in the exhibition for the first time. Other important loans include Ashur and Levi, two of the sons from the series of Jacob and his Twelve Sons, from the display at Auckland Castle, which will join Benjamin lent by the anonymous family member of Willoughby de Eresby of Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire. Another discovery is The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1638-40) which was presented to Seattle Art Museum in 2012 and a late Saint John the Baptist (1659) from a Spanish private collection, which is now accepted as fully autograph by Odile Delenda, author of Zurbarán’s catalogue raisonné. Also included are two still-lifes by Francisco de Zurbarán’s son Juan, who died of the plague in 1649, one formerly owned by the British art historian and Apollo Magazine editor Denys Sutton and now owned by the Moscow collector Inna Bazhenova, who publishes The Art Newspaper Russia. A downloadable 15-page leaflet-guide to the exhibition is available online at www.bozar.be.
The Bozar Centre for Fine Arts,Rue Ravenstein 33, 1000 Brussels
Wed 29 January – Sun 25 May 2014
A Cup of Water and a Rose, c.1630, oil on canvas, 21 x 30 cms, National Gallery London
For more information see http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=13203i
“Zurbarán,” first shown at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, and now showing at Bozar in Brussels until 25 May 2014, is the first show dedicated to the artist since the landmark publication of the first volume of Odile Delenda’s catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work in 2009, which identified 286 paintings as being by his own hand. Expertly curated by Ignacio Cano Rivero and Gabriele Finaldi, this skillfully selected and lucidly presented show of 49 pieces offers a comprehensive survey of Zurbarán’s career and is studded with masterpieces.
Zurbarán’s father was a textile merchant in the village of Fuente de Cantos in southern Spain, where the artist was born in 1598. Francisco was apprenticed to a now forgotten local painter in Seville from 1614 to 1617, during which time he met Velázquez, who became a lifelong friend. But whereas the latter forged a career in the courts of Madrid and Rome, becoming the leading portrait painter of his age, Zurbarán had a vocation for religious painting (and a deep knowledge of Spain’s mystical thought and literature).
Having moved to Llerena, in his native province of Badajoz, in 1622, the artist received a commission for 15 canvases for his birthplace. By the mid 1620s he was also sending cycles of works to Seville, where in 1629 he was invited by the city council to take up residence and where he would spend most of the rest of his life.
Although Zurbarán never set foot outside Spain, by the time he was training as a painter Caravaggio’s work was well known there. But whatever lessons Zurbarán learned from Caravaggio, his own paintings, not to mention his subject matter, remained distinct from the outset, not least in the intense spirituality with which he infused his images.
The exhibition continues roughly chronologically, but also according to themes: “First Major Commissions,” “Visions and Ecstasies,” “Still-lifes,” “The Mystical in the Everyday,” “Passion and Compassion,” “Works for the Court and the New World” and “Last Years: Madrid.”
Zurbarán’s vibrant still-lifes have been a key element in stimulating the rediscovery of this artist in modern times, though he did only a handful of independent works in this genre. Two of the most celebrated, “A Cup of Water and a Rose” from the National Gallery in London, and “Still-life” from the Prado in Madrid, are on display here. The pious message of these pieces tends to be overlooked by modern viewers. For Zurbarán’s contemporaries, the rose in the National Gallery picture, for instance, would have had clear associations with the Virgin Mary, and the white cup with purity and the Immaculate Conception.
These still-lifes were evidently popular in the artist’s own times, as he produced several versions of some of them. And beautifully executed still-life elements play an important emblematic part in many of his other paintings — from skulls, flowers and bowls of fruit to the brilliantly lit earthenware jug, bread, olives and radishes, representing the eucharist and Christ’s humility, in “Supper at Emmaus,” on loan from the Museo Nacional de San Carlos in Mexico City.
The artist’s studio in Seville produced a large number of canvases specifically for export to the New World. These were typically sold at the annual fair in Portobelo, Panama, and most ended up in Peru, where many can still be found. A high proportion of these pictures, executed by Zurbarán’s assistants, were of Biblical patriarchs.
By the time Zurbarán was in his 50s, Seville was suffering an economic crisis as a result of a diminution in trade with America and of the wars in Europe, further worsened by a plague in 1649, to which he lost his son Juan, a promising still-life painter. He also found himself challenged by a new generation of artists, above all Murillo.
In 1658 Zurbarán moved to Madrid, where he remained until his death in 1664. As the last two rooms of the Ferrara show reveal, his style and palette underwent radical changes there, particularly under the influence of Raphael, whose works were by then well represented in the Royal Collection.