Selected Paintings 1625-1664
The strange, very Catholic world of Francisco de Zurbarán’s paintings is as fascinating today as it is essentially foreign. Christ on the Cross, dead martyrs, remote saints, meditating monks, the superiors of orders that have long since been dissolved, all appear in images, usually with a black ground, so realistically one feels one could reach out and touch them. And yet they have the feel of messengers from a different world. In his essay for this book, Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom compares Zurbarán’s figures with aliens: “From their faces with wide-open eyes comes a ray that is precisely not that of death, but speaks of a silent ecstasy, a mystical devoutness that is no longer of this world.” For Zurbarán (1598–1664), a contemporary of Velázquez and Murillo, painting and religious immersion were two sides of the same exercise. Perhaps it is precisely this aspect of his art that is ensuring his images are once again attracting so much interest.