Francisco de Zurbarán, nicknamed the Spanish Caravaggio for his use of chiaroscuro, was a renowned artist known primarily for his religious paintings and still lifes. One of his masterpieces is Still Life with Pottery Jars, painted in circa 1650.
The painting features simple compositions and subjects, showcasing Zurbarán’s skill with tenebrism – the dramatic use of light and shadow. The autograph version of Still Life with Pottery Jars was donated to the Museo del Prado by collector Francesc Cambó in 1940. This painting depicts a group of pottery jars arranged on top of a wooden ledge against a dark background. The arrangement is notably illuminated by a beam of light that leaves some areas in heavy shadow while illuminating others, creating depth and drama.
Zurbarán painted two versions of this still life; one now resides in the Museo del Prado while the other is exhibited at the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona. Both versions showcase Zurbarán’s mastery in capturing the mood and emotion through lighting and composition.
In conclusion, Still Life with Pottery Jars is one of Francisco de Zurbarán’s most celebrated works. Its striking tenebrism style creates depth and emotion within its simple composition, making it an outstanding masterpiece within both still life genre history as well as art history itself.