Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 21



Alongside several versions of the Holy Face (also known as Veronica)
and the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), his Saint John Chrysostom and
Fray Luis de Granada of 1651 (sold by Colnaghi in the 1980s),
emblematizes the artist’s familiarity with contemporary spiritual
figures. His masterpiece, Magnificat Anima Mea (cat. no. 11),
presents a strikingly beautiful, iconic figure of the praying Virgin,
who at once resembles a sculpture and a metaphysical presence.
The purity of forms recalls the work of the fifteenth-century
Sicilian artist, Antonello da Messina (fig. 4), while anticipating
that of the Italian Baroque painter Giovan Battista Salvi, Il
Sassoferrato (fig. 5). With Diego Velázquez and Bartolomé
Esteban Murillo, Zurbarán developed what Victor Stoichita
aptly defined as imagery which was at once “visionary” and
orthodox, represented particularly well in the dogmatic theme
of the Immaculate Conception (fig. 6).10 Similar to El Greco,
Zurbarán perceived painting to have a fundamental role in the
redemption of mankind, as exemplified by his Crucified Christ with
a Painter (fig. 7). Included in the sacred scene, the artist is shown
as a soteriological mediator, capable of making the transcendent
visible and the miraculous persuasive.11
Fig. 5. Giovan Battista Salvi, Il Sassoferrato, The Virgin in Prayer, 1640-1650,
oil on canvas, 73 x 57.7 cm, London, National Gallery.
A complementary search for persuasiveness and the evocation of
supernatural beauty, rooted in the history and art of Antiquity,
can be found in Renaissance and Baroque Spanish polychrome
sculpture. Largely side-lined in the art-historical canon, the
pioneering National Gallery exhibition of 2009-2010, The Sacred
Made Real (in which Colnaghi’s sister gallery, Coll & Cortés,
played a significant role), demonstrated the fundamental place
of polychrome sculpture in the artistic culture of sixteenth- and
seventeenth- century Spain.12
20
Fig. 6. Diego Velázquez, The Immaculate Conception, 1618-1619, oil on canvas, 135 x 101.6 cm, London, National Gallery.
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