The Virgin with the Child Jesus and the Child Saint John the Baptist
Francisco de Zurbarán
Fuente de Cantos, Badajoz, 1598-Madrid, 1664
Oil on canvas, 169 x 127 cm
Acquired in 1940
The Virgin with the Child Jesus and the Child Saint John the Baptist is one of the most important works painted by Zurbarán two years before his death. This composition reveals the evolution of his style in Madrid, where he had private patrons and his works differed considerably from those made in his workshop in Seville, where he relied on the collaboration of assistants. Here Zurbarán expresses himself freely and more personally, giving the best of himself, as exemplified by the tender intimate atmosphere of the composition and by the attention paid to certain elements such as the pewter plate bearing apples and pears and the nuances of the lamb’s wool, that bear witness to his talent for the still life genre. As in other compositions, the wise use of prints by Dürer—the famous The Virgin and Child with a Monkey, to be precise—helped Zurbarán capture the inflection of the head of the Virgin and her hand on the book, as well as the position of the Child. In addition, the painting reveals the artist’s skilful rendering of the folds of material and the soft treatment of the face of the Virgin, infused with melancholy as she senses the suffering of her son. [B.N.P.]
Independently of its permanent collection, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum regularly organises temporary exhibition programmes.
Please consult the exhibition calendar for more information about the museum's latest proposals.
Usually classed as a realist painter, Antonio López (born in Tomelloso in 1936) is one of the most idiosyncratic artists at work in Spain after the Civil War. From the 1950s, he has produced drawings, engravings, paintings and sculptures, fashioning an oeuvre of a remarkable technical virtuosity that somehow seems outside time, despite focusing on the realistic representation of living beings and objects. López’s iconographic repertoire always springs from the reality of the visual world and oscillates between scenes of intimacy and the vast outdoors: portraits, still life works, interiors and domestic objects jostle with broad panoramic views.
In 1992 film director Víctor Erice shot the extraordinary El sol del membrillo (The Quince Sun), which concentrates on Antonio López’s creative process, on the intensity with which the artist contemplates objects. This act of rapt attention gives the film a halo of silence and a sensation of time suspended, which moves the viewer to a similar state of meditative absorption. the painter’s highly distinctive use of light contributes enormously to the dreamlike, metaphysical atmosphere, to the suggestion of the visible as a door, slightly ajar, to the invisible.
Despite his realist style, Antonio López has shaped an oeuvre independent from the other, more recent European realist or naturalist trends and from American hyperrealism. What he seeks in the reality that surrounds him are the quotidian aspects that awaken his interest; he works slowly and painstakingly towards his goal of capturing the essence of the sitter or of the objects or the land- and cityscapes portrayed. Curated by historian Guillermo Solana, art director at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, and the artist' s daughter María López, the exhibition will include a very complete overview of the oeuvre of Spanish artist Antonio López.
The selection of around 130 works, oil paintings, drawings and sculptures, represent his most recurrent themes: interiors, where the fantastic and emotive irrupt into daily life, the human figure, landscapes and the famous cityscapes of Madrid and Tomelloso, and his fruit compositions.Although works dated between 1949 and 2010 will be on show, the project concentrates largely on his output from the last two decades, which will include signature works like his earliest, slightly surreal family portraits, the legendary view of Madrid’s Gran Vía and the drawings of his studio. But attention will also be paid to more recent works, some of which are still unfinished and, logically, as yet unseen.
The exhibition as a whole will highlight the slow, meditative process by which Antonio López, one of today’s leading and most admired Spanish artists, arrives at his art.
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