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Escuela Española (XIX) - Bodegones de frutas

Pair of fruit still lifes, Spanish School, late 18th century - pp. S.XIX

Spectacular pair of still lifes, in oil on canvas, attributed to the Spanish School and made between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

The first, featuring different varieties of grapes, vine leaves and peaches. The two fruits are stacked separately, resting on the projection of an architectural element in perspective and oblique to the viewer. Of the second, the watermelons stand out, one whole in the back, the other two halves in the center of the composition, some figs placed in front, along with a bunch of peaches, and, in the background, branches of strawberry trees.

Both follow the characteristic model of the Spanish still life. Sánchez Cotán is considered the creator of a very characteristic type of this genre of still lifes, although it was later continued by authors such as Juan Van der Hamen. Its development is part of the context of growing appreciation of painting and the explosion of interest in naturalism and imitation of nature that began to develop at the end of the previous century.

As we can see, they stand out for the sobriety of their composition and the gloomy interest. The dark background, wrapped in a penumbra from which the fruits seem to emerge, is directly inspired by the model to which we constantly refer. Likewise, the composition, highly studied, asymmetrical but balanced, derives in the same way from the work of Cotán.

It also highlights a precious and meticulous realism, absolutely descriptive, achieved thanks to the handling of light and color, through the soft variations of light and shadow, and a large volume of the objects represented. The artist shows off his magnificent ability to paint still lifes, especially appreciable in his way of working with the different qualities of the elements, since the peaches seem to invite us to touch their skin.

The compositions are made up of the objects present, which appear developed in the narrow margin of a window seat. Actually, what is done is to imagine a window or opening in the wall in perspective, whose upper part is hidden. They could even be taken as trompe l'oeil, in which the author simulates a window as a stage in which he places the objects on the sill, which stand out strongly illuminated against the dark background, projecting towards the viewer. This technique is called > and, as we said, it is part of the type of still life developed by Sánchez Cotán.

Thanks to technical studies, it can be ensured that the background was painted first, and then the objects on top. This explains the lack of corrections and the meticulousness of the drawing.

One of the most curious aspects of this genre is the symbology that they contain. In this sense, fruits, as protagonists of the works, play a fundamental role. The grapes represent improper thoughts and lust; the watermelon, the good future; figs, knowledge; peaches, the long life expectancy or longevity, like the strawberry tree.

On the other hand, a small snail appears on one of the bunches of grapes, and the snail has represented throughout history the union of man with God, due to the perfect shape of its shell (Fibonacci succession), which was associated with divinity. Therefore, especially the work carried out by the grapes, actually hides a deep meaning, since it alludes to the eternity of life and the union of man with God, without forgetting its more profane meaning.

Shipping costs include professional, custom-made packaging; and personalized shipping, with tracking number and guarantee.

Object Painting
Artist Escuela Española (XIX)
Title of artwork Bodegones de frutas
Period 1800-1899
Technique Oil on canvas
Signature Not signed
Condition Good condition
Total dimensions 71×97×3 cm
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