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Annotated works


(Valle de Bárcena, Cantabria, c. 1616-Madrid?, c. 1670)

Architectural Caprice with Moses Saved from the Water

Oil on canvas

104 x 163 cm

c. 1655-1665

Baroque (17th Century)

N.° inv. 95/205

Acquired in 1995

GUTIÉRREZ CABELLO, Francisco on Online collection

Francisco Gutiérrez Cabello is an artist who stands out among the group of Madrid painters by always setting his scenes in rich constructions, as exemplified by this splendid composition. He excels in arranging complex and sumptuous architectural backdrops, most of which are derived from printed Flemish models such as those by Hans Vredeman de Vries, combining Gothic and Mannerist forms. In such luxurious surroundings he sets evangelical or biblical scenes peopled by slight vivacious characters. His colouring is usually bright and vivid, his skies intensely blue.

In this case the episode depicted is the biblical tale of the rescue of Moses from the waters of the river Nile by the Pharaoh’s daughter. The numerous characters dressed in luxurious costumes and the circle of maidservants accompanying the Pharaoh’s daughter form a colourful ensemble. Fantastic regal rowing boats sail the Nile, while carriages drawn by white horses wait on the waterfront, all of which are totally anachronistic features. The bridge we discern in the background, to the left, is an exact copy of Madrid’s Segovia bridge, popularised by contemporary poets such as Quevedo, who mentions its lack of proportion in comparison with the Manzanares, “an apprentice river”. Perhaps the painter, echoing this comment, chose to express that the bridge was worthy of the Nile. [A.E.P.S.]

Selected bibliography:

Enrique Valdivieso. "Francisco Gutiérrez, pintor de perspectivas"en Boletín del Museo del Prado, nº 9. Madrid : Museo del Prado,1982, pp. 176-180.

José María Quesada. "Perspectivas y Batallas de Francisco Gutiérrez y Matías de Torres"en Boletín de la Real Academia de BB.AA. de San Fernando, nº 79. Madrid : 1994, pp. 259-287.

Ismael Gutiérrez Pastor. Francisco Gutiérrez. Capricho arquitectónico con Moisés salvado de las aguas. Madrid : Caylus, 1997, pp. 118-123.

La ciutat que mai no existí : arquitectures fantàstiques en l'art occidental. [Cat. exp.]. Barcelona : Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona ; Diputació de Barcelona, 2003, p. 88.

La ciudad que nunca existió : arquitecturas fantásticas en el arte occidental. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2004, p. 17.

Arquitecturas pintadas : del Renacimiento al siglo XVIII. [Cat. exp.].Madrid : Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza ; Fundación Caja Madrid, 2011, pp. 213-214, 224-225.

Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 72, n.º 50, ad vocem.

Annotated works