Baroque and Beyond C. 1600–1850

The Golden Age of Spain

Who was Zurbaran?

Like Velazquez, Francisco de Zurbaran (1598–1664) was influenced by Caravaggio and is known for his powerful paintings of saints and martyrs, as well as his highly realistic still lifes. One of Zurbaran’s most powerful paintings is Saint Serapion (1628), which depicts the deceased saint after he sacrifed himself in exchange for captives held by the Moors. Against an inky black background, the saint’s body is illuminated, leaning forward against his restraints. Powerful light reflects off of his long white robes, which look incredibly real. A similar contrast of light and dark is evident in another painting Agnus Dei (c. 1635–1640), in which a white lamb dominates the picture plane, its feet tied in a suggestion of sacrifice. The simplicity of Zur-baran’s images belies moving spiritual connotations and profound visual impact.


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