Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 25

For Jennifer Fletcher
Too many cooks…; Cerezo, Barranco, De Leito,
and the kitchen still life in Madrid
Fig. 1 / Attributed to
Mateo Cerezo, Still Life
with Lamb, Bread, and
Kitchen Utensils, oil on
canvas, 100 x 127 cm,
Madrid, Museo Nacional
del Prado.
Since its acquisition by the Museo Nacional del Prado
in 1970, Still Life with Lamb, Bread, and Kitchen Utensils
(P3159) has been one of the most widely exhibited
– and admired – Spanish still-life paintings from the
seventeenth century (fig. 1). It entered the museum
as an anonymous painting of the Madrid school.1 Its
quality was noted in 1972, when it was catalogued as
“Obra excelente de estilo próximo a Pereda.” 2 In the
catalogue of the London exhibition The Golden Age of
Spanish Painting in 1976, Xavier de Salas was unable
to decide on its authorship; he said that it might be
by Antonio de Pereda and painted ca. 1640, but also
noted its compositional similarities to signed still lifes by
Mateo Cerezo in the Museo de San Carlos in Mexico
City (figs. 2 & 3). Alfonso Pérez Sánchez went on to
develop the attribution to Cerezo on stylistic grounds
in the catalogue of his exhibition D. Antonio de Pereda
(1611-1678) y la Pintura Madrileña de su Tiempo.3 This
was also based on perceived stylistic similarities with the
Cerezo still lifes in Mexico; he said that the treatment of
the meat and the copper utensils is almost identical in
these paintings, as is the pictorial contrast between the
bread and white cloth. He noted that the style of the
feathers in the Prado picture is similar to birds painted
by Frans Snyders (1579 -1657) or Jan Fyt (1611-1661),
something which, in his view, would not be surprising
in a work painted in Madrid ca. 1660. Pérez Sánchez
exhibited the painting again in Pintura Española de
Bodegones y Floreros de 1600 a Goya in 1983-1984, which
also included the two still lifes by Cerezo from Mexico;
the catalogue entry repeated the assertions made in
1978.4 By this time, he claimed that the attribution to
Cerezo was generally accepted.
The painting was given to Cerezo in subsequent
publications by Pérez Sánchez and routinely compared
to this artist’s still lifes in Mexico. It was listed as such in
the catalogue of the paintings of the Museo del Prado
in 1985 by Pérez Sánchez, then the museum’s director.5
He included it in his exhibition Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y
la Pintura Madrileña de su Tiempo [1650-1700] in 1986,
in which he elaborated his catalogue entry of 1978.6
His book La nature morte espagnole of 1987 repeated the
same information.7 The picture is in the catalogue
raisonné of the artist by Rogelio Buendía and Ismael
Gutiérrez Pastor, Vida y obra del pintor Mateo Cerezo (16371666) of 1986.8 These authors followed Pérez Sánchez
in stressing the similarity of the painting with the
signed still lifes in Mexico, while also emphasizing the
influence of the compositions of Giuseppe Recco and
Flemish still-life painting.
Doubts about the attribution to Cerezo began to
appear with the first international showing of Still Life
with Lamb, Bread, and Kitchen Utensils in 1976 in the
exhibition The Golden Age of Spanish Painting at the Royal
Academy, London.9 The picture was highlighted in the
review by Eric Young, “New Perspectives on Spanish
Still-Life Painting in the Golden Age,” in which the
author claimed not to be persuaded by the attributions
to either Pereda or Cerezo.10 It was included in Spanish
Still Life from Velázquez to Goya at the National Gallery,
London, in 1995, in whose catalogue the organizers,
William Jordan and the present author, noted
differences, rather than similarities, in the style and
handling of the picture in comparison with Cerezo’s
still lifes in Mexico.11


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