Still life with four pots

Zurbarán was a painter from Extremadura who worked during the period known as Spain’s “Siglo de oro”, the “Golden” 17th century. In 1629, he moved to Seville, where he was met with hostility from the guild of painters led by Alonso Cano, because he refused to present them with a “masterpiece” that would earn him the title of “Master Painter”, as was the custom with such guilds.

His main clients in Seville were monasteries, which led him to become known as the “monks’ painter”. The subjects of many of his paintings are Dominican, Franciscan and Mercedarian friars. As an artist, he is known for the his simplicity of composition, beautiful colours - particularly his whites -and his skill at depicting different textures, such as wool, silk, metal or ceramic.

This still-life is extremely simple, as was usual with Zurbarán. This may be the key to its appeal. Four pots stand in a row against a black background, in the Tenebrist fashion. What stands out most is the way he has highlighted the different qualities of each object. The source of light fall from the left had side onto all of the pots, making their various shapes and materials distinct. The painter has used the still-life to show off his technical skill and his talent for painting things with impressive realism, in a way that is reminiscent of the Hyperrealist painters of today, such as Spain’s own Antonio López.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns