October 25 , 2009




Francisco de Zurbarán was a Spanish painter, known mainly for his religious paintings depicting monks, nuns, and martyrs, and for his still-lifes. Zurbarán gained the nickname "Spanish Caravaggio", owing to the forceful, realistic use of chiaroscuro in which he excelled. He painted directly from nature, and made great use of the lay-figure in the study of draperies, in which Zurbarán was particularly expert. His subjects were mostly severe and ascetic religious vigils, the spirit chastising the flesh into subjection, the compositions often reduced to a single figure. The style is more reserved and chastened than Caravaggio's, the tone of color often quite bluish. Exceptional effects are attained by the precisely finished foregrounds, massed out largely in light and shade. Towards 1630 he was appointed painter to Philip IV, and there is a story that on one occasion the sovereign laid his hand on the artist's shoulder, saying "Painter to the king, king of painters."

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