Colnaghi Foundation Journal 02 - Page 191

PEDRO ORRENTE / The Spanish Bassano
The canvas is also painted in an earthier palette, and
the kneeling shepherd has brown rather than grey
hair. The success enjoyed by Orrente’s composition
is indicated by the existence of a smaller version on
canvas (117 x 82 cm) on loan from a Private Collection
to the Museo Etnográfico in Zamora,23 which also
follows the present version on copper very closely.
The stylistic characteristics of the Zamora version
suggest that it is by a follower of Orrente, rather
than the master himself. In turn, the Yeste Adoration
of the Magi is almost identical to the version on
copper, aside from the use of a darker palette and
a different, more schematic pattern of Melchior’s
mantle. Orrente would again make use of the Yeste
compositions, albeit with some slight variations, in
two canvases now in the church of San Sebastián
in Salamanca and formerly in the church of San
Bartolomé in that city: a signed Adoration of the Magi
(fig. 14) and an Adoration of the Shepherds.
Mention should also be made of an autograph replica
of the Adoration of the Magi (fig. 15) in the sacristy of
Toledo Cathedral. The mantle of the king kneeling
before the Christ Child bears the same pattern as that
in the copper panel and differs from the Yeste version,
which has a simpler decoration. The bearded man
on a white horse is different to the figure in both the
versions on copper and those in Yeste and Salamanca.
He supports a bridle with his left arm while stretching
out his right to point to the Christ Child. The Toledo
Adoration of the Magi, for which Orrente was paid
3,350 reales in 1630, forms a pendant to an Adoration
of the Shepherds that has a different composition to the
model under discussion here.
Enrique Valdivieso attributed to Orrente an Adoration
of the Magi and an Adoration of the Shepherds incorporated
into the Altarpiece of Nuestra Señora de la Antigua in
the church of Santa María la Coronada in Medina
Sidonia (Cadiz); 24 previously this was given incorrectly to
Zurbarán or his school.25 The Adoration of the Magi, which
PEDRO ORRENTE / The Spanish Bassano
is in horizontal format, is a replica with variants of
the composition examined here. The Medina Sidonia
canvas should be considered a work by the artist’s
studio. In contrast, its pair, the Adoration of the Shepherds,
is undoubtedly an autograph work by Jerónimo Jacinto
de Espinosa (1600-1667). The same altarpiece includes
two further Valencian canvases depicting apostles –
painted by the Valencian artist Miguel March (ca.
1633-1670) – which are clearly indebted to José de
Ribera’s apostles and philosophers.
Following his return from Italy, Orrente was a
celebrated and influential artist who not only worked
for preeminent patrons, but was also a well-regarded
member of the Inquisition.26 The emergence of
these two Adorations sheds light on a previously
unrecognized aspect of this important artist’s work
and presents critical new evidence for understanding
the development of and demand for works executed
on copper in Valencia in the early seventeenth
century. While the precise chronology of the various
versions of the Adoration compositions is impossible
to determine at this stage, the considerable number
of variants must reflect the popularity of Orrente’s
treatment of the subject. Could this in part stem from
the originals having been painted on a rare and novel
support, which rendered a jewel-like, enamel effect to
Orrente’s exquisite depiction of surface detail?
Fig. 14 / Pedro Orrente,
Adoration of the Magi, oil
on canvas, 170 x 130 cm,
Salamanca, Church of
San Bartolomé.
Fig. 15 / Pedro Orrente,
Adoration of the Magi, oil
on canvas, 175 x 120 cm,
Toledo, Sacristy of Toledo


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