Francisco de Zurbarán and his Workshop's Painting Production for the Americas: Trade, Collections and Reception

Change log
Herraez Vossbrink, Akemi 

Paintings by the Spanish seventeenth-century artist Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) have been documented to have reached Latin America between 1636 and 1649. Zurbarán was mostly active in Seville, the main Spanish port to the Americas during his lifetime, which was a considerable advantage as he had direct contact with the merchants and shipments destined overseas. By the time he started exporting his oeuvre to Latin America in the mid-1630s, he already had an established reputation in Seville, as painter of the religious orders, and had collaborated on a royal commission in Madrid. This made him the most well-known Spanish Golden Age artist to export a notable corpus of works to Latin America. It was not an individual endeavour as this success overseas would not have been possible without his workshop and agents. Upon reaching Latin America, these paintings were incorporated into secular and religious collections. Local artists would then produce their own interpretations adapting them to their local idiom and intended location. Some of the subjects exported by Zurbarán and his workshop had a special relevance in their new colonial context and were less in demand in Europe. All these factors will be addressed in this thesis, tracing the paintings from their production in Seville to their destination in Latin America. Despite the existence of multiple monographs, exhibitions and articles on Zurbarán’s Spanish production, his transatlantic exports have received less attention and it is only in the past decades that there have been more studies on these. However, there has not been a corpus incorporating archival documents related to Zurbarán and his workshop’s American activity as well as their extant paintings and colonial reinterpretations in Latin America. This survey incorporates new archival discoveries, technical research and unpublished paintings. Most of the scholarship on Zurbarán’s Latin American production has focused on the reception of his extant paintings and shipment documents throughout the seventeenth century. This study will expand this period from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century considering how Zurbarán’s works were collected, perceived and reinterpreted overseas. This broad time span enables a more nuanced reading of how Zurbarán’s reception varied over time in different parts of the viceroyalties including present-day Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala, where there are extant paintings by the painter and his workshop. There will be a greater emphasis on South America, especially in Lima, which holds the largest corpus of paintings and documents related to the artist in Latin America.

Massing, Jean Michel
Francisco de Zurbarán, Spanish Golden Age, Spanish paintings, Trade, Collections, Reception, Workshop, Americas, Colonial, Viceregal, Seventeenth Century
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge