SPANISH OLD MASTER PAINTINGS

1500-1700
Alberto Velasco, Gonzalez José Gómez Frechina, Ignacio Cano Rivero, and Leticia de Frutos Sastre, 2018

In this book, the reader will be able to enjoy six wonderful works of art made in the glorious sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain, which witnessed the emergence of internationally renowned artists that awaken our continuous and renewed admiration.
At the top of the list is the Sarga or Tüchlein representing the Tree of Jesse. It was painted in Castile, probably in Burgos during the reign of Charles V. The works executed with this technique that have survived to this day are rare, because, despite their unique beauty and the fact that they had often been created by great masters such as Pedro Berruguete, Luis de
Morales, Joan de Joanes or even Pieter Brueghel the Elder, they were used as curtains, room dividers or other implements. This means that in general they were not framed like paintings, so most of them could not stand the test of time and were lost over the centuries.
This catalog also presents the discovery of an extraordinary piece by Alejo Fernández, Jesus on the Way to Calvary, whose existence was certain but whose whereabouts had long remained unknown. Accounts from this period tell us that this artist was the best-known master from Seville in the first third of the sixteenth century. This work is a testament to the painter's impressive quality, showing great imagination, mastery of the palette, the characters' movement
and natural disposition, and extensive knowledge of space and perspective.
The Calvary made by Pedro de Orrente, an artist born in Murcia in 1580, known during his lifetime as the "Spanish Bassano", is breathtaking upon first encounter, because of its modern, innovating approach that reminds us of a theater set, which is enhanced by the dark backdrop and the painstaking contortion of the crucified figures.
The great Spanish master José de Ribera presents us with one of the best Ecce Homo versions known so far and virtually unpublished before.
This masterpiece belonged to Don Obdulio Moncada Calderón, born in Cartagena, Spain, and later to his descendants, who were its last owners. This calm representation of Christ imbues the viewer with a touching peace achieved by his naturalism, beauty and suggestive, penetrating look.
The outstanding Head of Silenus is a fragment from José de Ribera's painting known as Visit of Bacchus to Icarius, a monumental work that used to belong to the Royal Collection of Philip IV and got burned in the 1734 fire of the Alcazar in Madrid. Only four fragments were preserved, namely the Head of Bacchus; Erigone, the host's daughter, exhibited in a room of the Museo Nacional del Prado together with the works of Diego Velázquez; the Head of Silenus and, finally, Four Heads, lost today. This work bears the mark of the master's genius, and his perfect skill at granting Silenus' look an amazing mischievousness and subtlety.
Finally, given the chronology of the works presented here, I will refer to the Ecce Homo painted by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. It is undoubtedly a work made in the master's late years, meant for devotion and contemplation, which leaves us engrossed in an atmosphere plenty of
mysticism and ecstasy.