Francisco de Zurbaran Biography
Zurbaran was a Spanish painter of saints and churchmen. Zurbaran's use of sharply defined, often brilliant, colors, minute detail in simple composition paintings, strongly three-dimensional modeling of figures, and the shadowed light that brightly illuminates in his paintings all give Zurbaran paintings a solidity and dignity evocative of the solitude and solemnity of monastic life. Zurbaran paintings at its best fuses two dominant tendencies in Spanish art, realism and mysticism.
Zurbarán was born of Basque ancestry in Fuente de Cantos, Badajoz Province, on November 7, 1598.Zurbaran was apprenticed to a minor Spanish painter in Seville but appears to have been influenced early in his career by Michelangelo. in 1617 Zurbaran went to work in Llerena, and in 1629, at the invitation of the town council, he settled in Seville. Zurbarán spent the next 30 years there, with the exception of two years (1634-35) that he spent in Madrid working for the royal court. Zurbarán left Seville in 1658, after his reputation declined there; he died in Madrid on August 27, 1664.
Zurbarán was only slightly influenced by Diego Rodriguez Velázquez and Jusepe de Ribera. Late in his career, however, he changed his style, according to some critics, for the worse, after being influenced by Bartolomé Estéban Murillo.
Zurbarán’s earliest known painting, painted when he was 18 years old, is Immaculate Conception (private collection, Bilbao). Other notable early Zurbaran paintings include Crucifixion (1627-29, Museum of Fine Arts, Seville); several large scenes of the life of St. Peter Nolasco (died 1256), the founder of the Mercedarians, originally done for a convent in Seville (1628-29); The Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas (1631, Museum of Fine Arts, Seville); and Still Life with Oranges (1633, Contini-Bonacozzi Collection, Florence). the St. Thomas is considered his masterpiece and one of the great paintings of Spanish art.