Zurbarán Saves Himself For Posterity

Throughout his career, Francisco de Zurbarán was employed by the church, both through official patronage, as well as individual commissions by nobility associated with the church. As art critic Kay Larson wrote in 1987, “Zurbarán moved in this ecclesiastical world with some finesse and with a considerable technical skill joined by faith into a style of humble monumentality.” But the striking works for which he is known could easily have taken a backseat to his reputation as an artist overly conscious of his finances, thus willing to paint anything and work for anyone and everyone. Luckily, the less savory aspects of his character are overshadowed by the stirring and haunting images he produced. As Larson explained, “Zurbarán, it seems, was saved from being a hack by his spirituality and his natural gifts.”

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