Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 35



32
Too many cooks…; Cerezo, Barranco, De Leito, and the kitchen still life in Madrid
Fig. 10 / Francisco Barranco,
Still Life with Dead Birds and
Chocolate Service, signed and
dated 1647, oil on panel, 30.2
x 50.5 cm, Private Collection.
Fig. 11 / Francisco Barranco,
Still Life with Birds and
Rabbits (and Chocolate
Service), signed and dated
1647, oil on canvas, 30.2
x 50.5 cm, Madrid, Abelló
Collection.
Fig. 12 / Francisco Barranco,
Still Life with Fruits and
Oysters, signed and dated
1647, oil on canvas, 30.2
x 50.5 cm, Madrid, Abelló
Collection.
through the city, perhaps on his way to South America.
It may be significant in this regard that still lifes are the
only works known by Barranco; this was a genre which
was well suited to an itinerant artist, being generally
painted on spec and finding a ready market among
private collectors.
Circumstantial evidence from Barranco’s still lifes could
point to the artist’s Flemish origins.45 The subject matter
of three paintings, signed and dated 1647, is unusual
in the context of Spanish still life (figs. 10, 11, & 12).46
The presence in one picture of a live rabbit eating a
lettuce leaf, no less, goes against the principle generally
observed by Spanish painters that still life represented
naturaleza muerta. The inclusion of live animals in still
lifes was more common in Flemish art. The dead birds
that are a signature motif of the artist are also a subject
matter associated with Flemish still-life painters, such
Too many cooks…; Cerezo, Barranco, De Leito, and the kitchen still life in Madrid
as Jan Fyt, among others. The blue salt-glazed stoneware
jug with a pewter top in one of the still lifes (fig. 12) is
evidently of northern manufacture. The artist’s use of
a northern oak panel in the Still Life with Dead Birds and
Chocolate Service fig. 10) is also significant in this regard.47
On the other hand, Barranco’s works might be thought to
lack the technical proficiency and stylistic meticulousness
that would be expected in a northern still-life specialist.48
Two of the still lifes illustrated here (see figs. 10 & 11)
represent the accoutrements of chocolate drinking; this
quintessentially “Spanish” subject matter can be seen in
the works of Juan de Zurbarán.49 Still-life paintings with
dead birds are also known in Seville at this time; one by
Pedro de Camprobín is signed and dated 1653 (Dallas,
Meadows Museum), although Barranco’s paintings may
have inspired this.50 The aforementioned “Flemish”
features in Barranco’s paintings could just as well be
explained by his emulation of foreign models in Spain.51
33

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