The present work, praised as a painting of high quality by Odile Delenda in her 2009 catalogue raisonné of Zurbarán, was not known before the 19th century. From then, however, it belonged to a number of distinguished collections. It was first discovered in Seville by Frank Hall Standish (1799-1840), an English art collector and bibliophile who moved to the city and invested a large part of his fortune acquiring Spanish paintings. As a sign of respect for the French, he later bequeathed his collections to King Louis Philippe I of France (1773-1850), and from 1842, his paintings hung in the Standish Museum inside the Louvre, a part of the famed Spanish Galleries of the French monarchy. After the Revolution in 1848, however, the King reclaimed the collection as his personal patrimony. Following Louis Philippe's death in 1850, the collection was dispersed, and the present picture was acquired by Sir William Stirling-Maxwell (1818-1878), 9th Baronet, who brought it to his home in Keir, Scotland.
Stirling-Maxwell was a prominent Scottish politician and historian, and a Trustee of the British Museum and the National Gallery in London. He was also a connoisseur of Spanish painting who was the first to recognize Zurbarán as the author of the present picture, which he especially prized, selecting it to be included in the Treasures of the United Kingdom exhibition held in Manchester in 1857. Stirling-Maxwell is responsible for the present title Regina Angelorum, or Queen of the Angels, coined to describe the luminous concentric circles of cherubim and seraphim surrounding the Virgin, which are executed with unusual subtlety and refinement. The painting remained in Keir House until 1963, when it was sold to Sir Robert and Lady Adeane. The Adeanes were important patrons of the arts; Sir Robert is the namesake of the Modern Gallery at the Fitzwilliam, Cambridge, and Lady Adeane founded the East Anglia Foundation, which today continues to support art exhibitions throughout England.
Although common in 17th-century Spanish art, representations of the Virgin crowned are relatively rare in the works of Zurbarán, and Delenda has suggested the present image may have been inspired by an engraving by Hieronymus Wierix (1553-1619) based on a composition by the Flemish painter Martin de Vos (1532-1603) (O. Delenda, op. cit., p. 687). The background and face of the Virgin in the present lot are similar to those found in Zurbarán's Immaculate Conception in an American private collection (O. Delenda, op. cit., no. 248), signed and dated 1656. In Zurbarán's Madonna of the Carthusians (Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes, inv. 173), the face of the Virgin is also comparable, and she is again shown with long, wavy brown hair and wearing a similar tall, arched crown. Based on these comparisons, Delenda believes the present work should be dated to between 1656 and 1658 (O. Delenda, op. cit., p. 687).
Paris, Musée du Louvre, King Louis-Philippe's Galerie Espagnole, 1842-1848.
Manchester, Art Treasures of the United Kingdom, Paintings by Ancient Masters, 1857, no. 778.
Manchester, Manchester City Art Gallery, Art Treasures Centenary Exhibition: European Old Masters, 30 October-31 December 1957, no. 152.
Catalogue des tableaux, dessins et gravures de la collection Standish legués au Roi par M. Franck Hall Standish, Paris, 1842, p. 36, no. 186 as 'Spanish school'.
G.F. Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857, IV, p. 450.
Sir W. Stirling-Maxwell, The Works of Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, Baronet, London, 1891, III, p. 925.
Bibliographia in Archivo Español de Arte, CLXII-CLXIII, 1968, p. 202, no. 210.
J. Guidol and J. Gállego, Zurbarán, London, 1977, pp. 78-79, 164, no. 53, fig. 60.
O. Delenda, Francisco de Zurbarán, 1598-1664: catálogo razonado y crítico, Madrid, 2009, pp. 686-687, no. 250.
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Frank Hall Standish, Duxbury Hall, by whom bequeathed in 1841 with the rest of his collection to
King Louis-Philippe of France, by whom lent to Paris, Louvre, Galerie Espagnole; (†), Christie's, London, 28 & 30 May 1853, lot 123, as 'Unknown' (25 gns. to Greaves for the following).
William Stirling, later Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, B.T., K.T., Keir, Scotland, and by descent to Lt.-Col. William Stirling of Keir, Scotland; Sotheby's, London, 3 July 1963, lot 69, where acquired by
Col. Sir Robert Adeane, O.B.E., London; Christie's, London, 21 June 1968, lot 88 (unsold).
Col. Sir Robert Adeane, O.B.E.; (†), Sotheby's, London, 10 December 1980, lot 14.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 3 June 1988, lot 82.
About Francisco de Zurbarán
Aside from producing a number of history paintings, portraits, and still lifes, Spanish Baroque painter Francisco de Zurbarán devoted his career almost entirely to religious works. Zurbarán was a student of naturalism who favored the darkness of tenebrism and chiaroscuro; his style was most often compared to that of Caravaggio. The artist’s favorite subjects were religious figures—apostles, saints, monks, and madonnas—posed against neutral backgrounds. Zurbarán also paid particular attention to the natural effect of lighting and the details of dress. He was most applauded for his ability to combine realism with mysticism, bring a degree of accessibility to spiritual otherworldliness. His late works, which demonstrated a shift towards idealized and ethereal forms in the manner of his contemporary Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, were not well received by his large following.
Spanish, 1598-1664, Fuente de Cantos, Spain, based in Madrid, Spain