Property from a Private Collection
FRANCISCO DE ZURBARÁN
Fuente de Cantos, Badajoz 1598 - 1664 Madrid
Christ on the Cross
signed lower right: francod... [Zurbarán]
and inscribed on the titulus of the cross: IESVS NAZARENUS REX IV/ DEORVM with translations in Hebrew and Greek above
款識：藝術家簽名francod... [Zurbarán]（右下）並題款IESVS NAZARENUS REX IV/ DEORVM（十字架上的銘文），上方題款希伯來及希臘譯文
oil on canvas
267 x 189 cm.; 105 x 74½ in.
267 x 189公分；105 x 74 ½英寸
The following condition report is provided by Hamish Dewar who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's:
The large canvas appears to be structurally sound and secure and is evenly stretched onto a keyed wooden stretcher.
Due to the size of the work I was unable to fully access the reverse but it would appear that the canvas has been strip-lined and numerous patches are visible on the reverse in the areas that I could view. There are stretcher-bar lines which appear entirely stable. The various repairs to the reverse of the canvas are identifiable under a raking light on the paint surface.
The paint surface has a reasonably even varnish layer.
Numerous retouchings are identifiable under a strong natural light particularly in the dark background and in the darker shadows of Christ. Inspection under ultraviolet light shows extensive retouchings throughout the background with several corresponding to the patches on the reverse. There are also several retouchings on the figure of the Christ, which appear to have been carefully applied, with larger retouchings on His legs and an area on His neck. There may be further retouchings which I could not identify under ultraviolet light.
The painting would therefore appear to be in stable and secure condition and no further work is required for reasons of conservation. The extent of retouchings applied in the past should be noted.
Numerous photographs under ultraviolet light are available if required.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."
In the possession of the Jesuit Order, Lima (acquired by 1870);
Lavalle Collection, Lima (acquired before 1930);
Private collection, since 1994.
Marqués de Lozoya, ‘Más zurbaranes en el Perú’, Archivo español de arte, XL, no. 157, January–March 1967, p. 86;
F. Stastny, ‘Una Crucifixión de Zurbarán en Lima’, Archivo español de arte, XLIII, 169, March 1970, pp. 83–86, reproduced pl. 1;
P. Guinard and T. Frati, Tout l'œuvre peint de Zurbarán, Paris 1975, cat. no. 72, pp. 7, 80;
J. Gállego and J. Gudiol, Zurbarán, 1598–1664, Barcelona 1977, p. 90, no. 175 (among ‘works probably painted between 1631 and 1640’);
J.V. Lovine, ‘A Zurbarán Emerges’, Connoisseur, CCXIV, no. 874, December 1984, p. 35, reproduced;‘Un Zurbarán pour un musée’, in Connaissance des Arts, no. 406, December 1985, p. 141, reproduced;
F. Stastny, ‘Zurbarán en América Latina’, in Zurbarán en los Conventos de América, N. Gutiérrez (ed.), exh. cat., Caracas 1988, p. 19 and n. 8, reproduced p. 18, fig. 1;
J.M. Serrera, ‘Zurbarán y América’, in Zurbarán, exh. cat., Museo del Prado, Madrid 1988, p. 68;
J. Bernales Ballesteros, ‘La Pintura en Lima durante el Virreinato’, in Pintura en el Virreinato del Perú, Lima 1989, pp. 84, 107, cat. no. 78;
C. Pacheco Vélez, ‘Zurbarán en Lima’, in Pintura en el Virreinato del Perú, Lima 1989, p. 276;
M. Brenson, ‘Duality of the Divine in an Unlikely Setting’, in The New York Times, 10 August 1990, p. C6, reproduced (citing dating by Jonathan Brown to the 1640s);
M.L. Caturla and O. Delenda, Francisco de Zurbarán, Paris 1994, pp. 53 and 72 n. 30, reproduced pp. 12 (colour detail: head of Christ) and 51;
E. Pareja López, Francisco de Zurbarán, 1598–1998, exh. cat., Museo Obispado Cajasur de Bellas Artes, Córdoba, and elsewhere, 1997, reproduced in colour p. 43;
J. Milicau in Zurbarán al Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, exh. cat., Barcelona 1998, p. 86, under no. 4, and pp. 218 and 250 (Catalan and English translations);
J. Mariazza Foy, 'Francisco de Zurbarán y su taller en la pintura colonial peruana', in Francisco de Zurbarán y su obrador: obras en España y el Virreynato del Perú, exh. cat., Torreón de Lozoya, Segovia, 2001, p. 58;
L.E. Tord, 'Francisco de Zurbarán en el Perú', in Francisco de Zurbarán y su obrador: obras en España y el Virreynato del Perú, exh. cat., Torreón de Lozoya, Segovia, 2001, p. 62;
O. Delenda in De Herrera a Velázquez: el primer naturalismo en Sevilla, A.E. Pérez Sánchez and B. Navarrete Prieto (eds), exh. cat., Hospital de los Venerables, Seville, and Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2005, p. 258, under no. 57, reproduced in colour fig. 139;
O. Delenda, Francisco de Zurbarán, pintor, 1598–1664, Madrid 2007, p. 134, reproduced in colour, pp. 134 and 135;
O. Delenda et al., Francisco de Zurbarán, 1598–1664: Catalogo razonado y critico, vol. I, Madrid 2009, pp. 61, 332–34, 336, 338–39 and 650, cat. no. 101–03 and 235, reproduced in colour pp. 332 and 650;
F. Stastny, 'Una crucixión de Zurbarán en Lima', in Estudios de arte colonial, S.V. Rose and J.C.E. Fuchs (eds), Lima 2013, p. 230, reproduced p. 231, fig. 69;
O. Delenda, ‘Francisco de Zurbarán; Leben und Werk’, in Zurbarán. Meister der Details, exh. cat., Düsseldorf 2015, p. 30 and 196, reproduced in colour p. 197 (as dated to c. 1635–40).
Lima, Peru, Museo del Arte, 1970;
Düsseldorf, Museum Kunstpalast, Zurbarán: Meister der Details, 10 October 2015 – 31 January 2016, no. 65.
Zurbarán's iconic depictions of Christ on the Cross are amongst the most striking and profoundly moving images to be found in Spanish Baroque art. The power of this remarkable painting comes from its sheer simplicity. Nailed to a rough-hewn cross, Christ’s body emerges from the impenetrable darkness, illuminated only by a bright light from above and to the left. The scene is devoid of all narrative details – the figures of His mother and mourners are absent and only the barest hints of a distant landscape serve as a setting – thus forcing the viewer to focus upon Christ’s sacrifice. This dramatic tenebrism is reinforced by the life-size scale of the crucified Christ, and in the luminous flesh and the cleanly modelled folds of His loincloth the illusion of reality is taken to an unprecedented level. It is as though we are present at the very moment of His final breaths, as He cries out to His Father. This devotional ‘reality’ was deliberately austere and emotionally powerful and was intended to shock the senses and stir the soul of the faithful. Painted around 1635, the solemn, religious intensity of Zurbaran’s works such as this accorded perfectly with the needs of the Counter-Reformation in seventeenth century Seville, and to this day he remains unsurpassed as a painter of the revived Catholic spirituality of his times.
The theme of the Crucified Christ was of central importance in Zurbarán’s œuvre. His earliest treatment of the subject was painted for the Sevillian monastery of San Pablo el Real in 1627 and is today in the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 1).1 Thereafter he executed some thirty works on this subject, with later examples dating from the 1650s. These can be divided into two groups: those depicting Christ while still alive on the cross, such as in the present canvas, and those showing Him after his death. Undoubtedly the most powerful of these are those painted like the present canvas in the 1630s. The present work is generally dated by scholars to between 1635–40, roughly a decade after the San Pablo altarpiece. It is one of only three autograph versions of this specific iconographic type and is furthermore the only one to be signed, which indicates that it can probably be considered as the prime original. The two other autograph paintings are in the parish church of the port of Mutriku (in the province of Gipuzkoa in the autonomous Basque region of northern Spain) and in the Museo de Bellas Artes in Seville (figs 2 and 3).2 Zurbarán’s Christ is presented frontally and upright, not hanging on the cross after death but standing upright with His feet resting on the supedaneum, supporting the weight of His body. Unusually, Zurbarán has positioned Christ’s feet parallel to each other, with a nail driven through each, not crossed over each other and pierced with a single nail, as was usual at this time. The iconography follows the instruction of Francisco Pacheco (1564–1644), whose Christ on the Cross (Private collection, Madrid) of 1615 shows Christ standing with four (rather than the usual three) nails fixing him to the cross against a similarly blank foreground (fig. 4).3 Although an artist of limited ability, Pacheco was the leading teacher and theorist in Seville in first decades of the seventeenth century, and in his capacity as Supervisor of Sacred Images to the Inquisition after 1618 he emphasized that in the imitation of nature art should have a spiritual purpose in the service of religion. In his El Arte de la Pintura of 1649, for example, Pacheco wrote that this departure from tradition regarding the depiction of the Crucifixion adhered to the New Testament accounts more closely, and that the upright stance of Jesus was ‘without ugly twisting or discomposure, as is suitable to the sovereign greatness of Christ our Lord’.4 While it is unclear whether Zurbarán saw Pacheco’s painting, his handling of the subject clearly recalls it and the Crucified Christ painted a few years earlier around 1632 by the latter’s pupil and son-in-law Diego Velázquez (1599–1660) for the Encarnación de San Plácido, a convent of Benedictine nuns in Madrid, and today in the Prado. Although we do not know of the original circumstances of the commission for this painting, the large scale of the canvas strongly suggests that it was intended as an altarpiece, the lighting perhaps indicating that this for a chapel with a light source falling from above and to the left.
While Pacheco’s iconography may have served as a starting point for the young Zurbarán, he brings to his subject a luminosity and a realism that is utterly absent from the older artist’s example. The Christ on the Cross here is a perfect illustration of this astonishingly powerful new and pared back aesthetic approach. The figure of Christ is depicted with a profound understanding of anatomy and with a focus on detail and the texture of different surfaces. Zurbarán has not spared the viewer any details; everything from the callused skin of Christ’s bare feet to the cold iron of the nails, the smooth tension of His skin and the splinters of the roughly sawn wood of the cross is scrupulously depicted. The drapery fastened around Christ's hips, called the perizonium, or paño de pureza (cloth of purity), is depicted in full volume and appears bright white in the stream of light that falls on the lone figure. The strikingly three-dimensional, sculptural quality of this linen suggests the artist was working from a model, prepared perhaps with starched cloth or fabric dipped in plaster. This very probably reflects Zurbarán’s early training as a polychromer of sculpture, and indeed the hugely important influence of contemporary Spanish sculpture upon his art.
This monumental and moving simplicity and the startling new visual language in which it was expressed in works such as the Christ on the Cross aroused an immediate reaction among Zurbarán’s contemporaries in Seville and beyond. The joining of realism and mysticism in Zurbarán’s art answered perfectly the contemporary desire of the Catholic Church that art would better reflect the enhanced spirituality demanded by the Counter-Reformation. The unsparing depiction of the figure of Christ in the final moments of His suffering accords closely with the austere devotional imagery prescribed by Pacheco and the Catholic Revival. The significance of the iconography of the crucified Christ in the early decades of the seventeenth century in Spain can hardly be overstated. Prior to the Reformation, images of Christ on the cross were commonplace; they were to be found within churches, sculpted into life-like figures and carried in procession through the streets in Passion plays and venerated upon the death-bed. The visibility and ubiquity of the crucified Christ, along with the special demands put upon it by its centrality to Catholic doctrine and devotional practice, ensured that it was thoroughly rejected by Lutherans and Calvinists and made a particular target of iconoclasts. Conversely, it now attained enhanced significance for Roman Catholic iconography, and by Tridentine decree images of the crucified Christ were to be placed on every Catholic altar. The Counter Reformation, however, required a significant re-imagining of the motif. The panoramic, multi-figure, narrative crucifixion scenes favoured before 1500 were now replaced by images of Christ either alone, or with only one or two other figures such as the two Marys and John the Evangelist and wide and detailed landscapes replaced by atmospheric darkness. The stark and sober solemnity of this Christ on the Cross by Zurbarán perfectly embodies the simplification of this subject matter and conforms to contemporary assertions of apostolic purity and reformatory stripping away of excess.
Of particular interest with regard to the present painting are its connections with the Spanish New World. There are, for example, no less than three copies after this Christ on the Cross recorded in the Peruvian capital, Lima.5 Taken together with the known history of this picture, the existence of the Lima copies may well attest to its early arrival in the former Spanish colonial capital. It may be that this canvas was commissioned from Zurbarán specifically for the altar of a church or monastic centre there, and if so it would constitute one of the very first of his paintings to be exported to the New World. Although in Spain itself Zurbarán’s later years were eclipsed by Murillo’s popular and less ascetic art, he exercised considerable influence on the colonial painters of Spanish America through the many works exported there. The number of versions produced by Zurbarán’s workshop unquestionably attests to the widespread demand for versions of the composition throughout Spain and beyond.
1 Delenda 2009, p. 96, cat. no. 7, reproduced.
2 Delenda 2009, pp. 335–37, cat. nos 102 and 103. The author lists a total of eleven versions of this composition, with the remainder judged to be works from the workshop of Zurbarán.
3 Delenda 2009, p. 333, reproduced fig. 1.
4 J. Brown, Images and Ideas in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Painting, Princeton 1978, p. 70.
5 Stastny 1970, p. 85.