Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 40



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ANDRÉS DE LEITO / Vanitas
ANDRÉS DE LEITO / Vanitas
the date twice and the monogram used by the artist
on various occasions: “ANDrES DELE(I)TO (flourish)
– AÑO 1662/ ANLF AÑO 1662”.11 Inspired by the
earlier Annunciation of Juan Carreño de Miranda
(Madrid, Hospital de la Venerable Orden Tercera), this
work reveals De Leito’s limitations in figure painting,
evident especially in the archangel (which is painted in
a style that, for Ceán, exemplified the shortcomings he
identifed in the artist’s above-mentioned series for the
Franciscans). It nonetheless exhibits luminous colouring
and striking effects of transparency, executed with
a technique that combines soft, rounded forms with
broken, energetic brushstrokes.
Fig. 3 / Andrés De Leito,
Expulsion of the Money
Changers from the Temple,
oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm,
Madrid, Museo del Prado.
Fig. 2 / Andrés De Leito,
Annunciation, 1662, oil
on canvas, 117 x 153 cm,
Segovia, Santísima Trinidad.
The fact that they were completed by Sarabia, as stated
by Ceán, seems to indicate that De Leito was unable to
do so for some reason. Palomino, however, attributed
the entire series to Felipe Gil de Mena from Valladolid,6
although he may have been relying on a secondary
or partial source. Ponz on the other hand visited the
monastery himself and therefore was in a position to
obtain first-hand information; it is entirely possible that
his attribution of the works to De Leito was based on
a signature. The radical stylistic difference that must
have been evident between the work of the two painters
may explain why Gil was asked to re-touch De Leito’s
contribution.7
Besides this series, De Leito also refers in his will to payment
for various works that he does not seem ultimately to have
executed, such as a Nativity commissioned by a certain
Juan Bautista – for which he received nine seras of coal
– and two canvases on a subject of his choice that he was
to paint for the treasurer of the Count of Chinchón – for
which he was advanced 100 reales on the condition that
should he not be able to fulfil these commitments, he
would return the amount paid to him.8
Finally, De Leito’s short will states that he was married
to Úrsula de las Heras and that they had no children.
He was thus related by marriage to the painter
Crístobal de las Heras (d. 1645?), whose widow, María
van de Pere (whom De Leito refers to as “my lady” and
names as one of his executors) was the sister of the
painter Antonio van de Pere. De Leito also had two
brothers, Francisco and Domingo, with whom he was
meant to divide various family possessions, including
their father’s house in Valdemoro.9 This was the town
near Madrid where De Leito was probably born, as
was his wife who was baptised there in 1608; he could
also have coincided with Van de Pere there around
1660 when the latter was painting the ceiling of the
parish church, although it is also conceivable that De
Leito himself secured the commission or acted as an
intermediary.
De Leito’s only known dated work is the Annunciation
(fig. 2) in the church of the Santísima Trinidad in
Segovia, executed around the same time as the
paintings for the monastery of San Francisco.10 The
signature in capital letters at the lower right includes
Completely different in colour and handling is the
agitated, nocturnal and almost fantastical Expulsion
of the Money Changers from the Temple (fig. 3) (Madrid,
Museo del Prado, inv. no. P-3125; 60 x 80 cm, signed).
41
This is characterized by its Bassanesque lighting, a
harmonious range of warm red, golden and ochre
tones (with the figure of Christ creating a chromatic
contrast), otherworldly atmospheric effects and
powerful backlighting, all conveyed through the use of
impasto.12 Without the presence of the signature, this
work could be mistaken for a preparatory sketch.
The limited number of documented commissions
and signed devotional works associated with De Leito
probably reflects the fact that he was most highly valued
by contemporaries as a producer of genre paintings. In
this area De Leito achieved his most expressive visual
mode. His known oeuvre includes several fine examples
of kitchen scenes, still lifes without figures (the “small
still lifes” referred to by Palomino),13 and Vanitas pieces.
The iconographic model for the first type of work
originates in late sixteenth-century Flemish works by

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