Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 32

Too many cooks…; Cerezo, Barranco, De Leito, and the kitchen still life in Madrid
Too many cooks…; Cerezo, Barranco, De Leito, and the kitchen still life in Madrid
on the other hand, show the use of thinned pigment,
a less emphatic modelling of forms, and a more
uniform handling. Another picture, Still Life with
Bread, Squid, Lobster, Fish, and Utensils, is comparable to
this pair of fish pieces, in, for instance, the “standard”
detail of a bread roll atop a white cloth.36 All three
pictures would ultimately appear to be Spanish
responses to Neapolitan models and particularly the
paintings of fish and sea foods by Giuseppe Recco,
which were appreciated on the Madrid art market. 37
Fig. 8 / Andrés De Leito,
Still Life with Figures –
Winter, ca. 1680, oil on
canvas, 106.5 x 165 cm,
Madrid, Abelló Collection.
Technical analysis of the aforementioned pair of fish
pieces has revealed an approach characterized by
an economy of means and materials, and a direct,
expeditious execution. The artist has worked the
pigments wet-in-wet over a tonal base, with most of the
composition probably completed in a single session.38
Objects are modelled with glazes of dark pigment and
earth colour notes relieve the generally monochrome
palette. The pictures are close in style to the still
lifes of Andrés De Leito in terms of their tenebrismo,
with objects illuminated by flashing highlights, and
their handling, with “watery” paint applied in long
brushstrokes in the larger forms. There is a similarity in
the handling of the green glaze pot in Still Life with Fish,
Bread, and a Copper Pan (see fig. 7) and the green melon in
De Leito’s Still Life with Figures – Winter (fig. 8), as well as
the bread in the first and the same motif in the pendant
picture by De Leito (fig. 9); in addition the handling of
the fish in the first picture is like the chicken served by
the woman in this pendant.39 Moreover, the technical
procedures analyzed in the pictures attributed to
Cerezo and those of De Leito have been shown to have
much in common.40 The paint surfaces of the former
are, however, generally smoother and they lack the
characteristic “sparkle” of highlights built up with spots
of pigment in De Leito’s works.
Fig. 9 / Andrés De Leito,
Still Life with Figures –
Autumn, ca. 1680, oil on
canvas, 106.5 x 165 cm,
Madrid, Abelló Collection.
If the two fish pieces discussed here were indeed
by Cerezo, then they would oblige scholars to
reconsider the artist’s short career; they would
have to be explained in terms of a plausible stylistic
evolutionary model or the demands of the market,
to say nothing of the activities of a workshop. The
technical analogies with the works of De Leito, who
is documented in Madrid between 1656-1663 during
the same years of activity as Cerezo, may justify
Palomino citing the two artists in the same sentence
for their reputation as still-life painters. This, in
turn, would raise other questions. Did one train
the other? Or, did they share a workshop? The last
possibility is well worth considering, since workshops
were probably technically promiscuous spaces, where
artists could pick up procedures and methods from
one another. Or is the relationship to be considered in
terms of rivalry, with De Leito’s emulation of Cerezo
explaining the very technical and stylistic analogies
which have led to questions of attribution?41
Francisco Barranco also painted kitchen still lifes,
along with bird and fish pieces, and appears to have
worked in both Madrid and Seville. The claim of Cean
Bermúdez that Barranco lived in Andalusia around
1646, “where there are several bodegoncillos signed
by him and painted with verisimilitude and good
colouring,” was probably based on signed pictures
which the biographer had seen while he himself lived
there.42 That Barranco worked in Seville is suggested by
three still lifes inventoried in a local collection in 1650,
along with three by Francisco de Herrera.43 His main
competitors in the genre at this time would have been
Francisco de Herrera the Elder (ca. 1590 – ca. 1657),
the Zurbaráns, father Francisco (1598-1664) and son
Juan (1620-1649) Pedro de Medina (d. 1691), and Pedro
de Camprobín (1605-1674).44 However, Barranco’s still
lifes are stylistically unlike those being painted in Seville
at this time, and he may have arrived in the city already
formed as a painter. The fact that, so far, the archival
sources have not yielded any biographical information
on him also raises the possibility that he was passing


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