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The defense of Cadiz against the English

Painting, 1634, 302×323 cm

Description of the artwork «The defense of Cadiz against the English»

"Defense of Cadiz against the English" - a rare case when Zurbaran, who painted mostly religious scenes on the orders of the monasteries, he turned to historical genre. This was facilitated by circumstances. In 1630-ies of each Diego Velasquezwith which they once studied at the Academy of art theorist Francisco Pacheco and who made a career at the court of king Philip IV, invited the provincial Zurbaran in Madrid.

In the suburbs of the capital just finished building a new Royal residence – the castle of Buen Retiro (literally "good privacy"), and needed talented artists who could perform picture worthy to decorate the walls of Buen Retiro and celebrating the power of the Spanish crown.

Almost at the same time, Velazquez and Zurbaran completed two historical paintings: the first "The Surrender Of Breda"and the second is "the Defense of Cadiz".

The event, which turned Zurbaran, occurred less than ten years ago, in 1625, and was memorable to his countrymen. In that year, the British naval commander Lord Wimbleton long and hard Spanish besieging Cadiz, was forced to retreat and leave the city.

The Zurbaran need to be especially truthful and accurate, because this time he pretended not long-dead saints, and his famous contemporaries. Besides, contemporaries, especially appreciated by the Spaniards. History has preserved their names. The old commander don Fernando Giron, who commanded the battle, it is not necessary, as demanded by tradition of this genre, and sits in the chair because, according to the memoirs, in the historic day he suffered greatly from gout. Facing him, with a hat and a staff in his hand is the Duke of Medina Sidonia. It is also a historical person, and Zurbaran achieve the portrait likeness. Further to the right is something like a military Council – a group of Spanish officers discussing the battle.

"Defense of Cadiz" can tell a lot about the evolution of Zurbaran and the influence of Velasquez. Here the works of Zurbaran finally freed from a dramatic black and white effects Caravaggioso loved in his youth. Instead of the conventional dark background, Zurbaran chose earlier, you receive the light environment and aerial perspective. Background pictures constitute a winding sandy shores of Cadiz and the sea, filled with ships with a high wooden masts. Dark gloomy tower with battlements behind Fernando Chiron sets off the bright blue of the sea and reports the space depth. The landscape that stretches away to the horizon, gives the film a special sense of monumentality and solemnity.

As always, Zurbaran virtuoso in the image texture of the objects of the material world. The fabric of stockings and knickers, a metal cuirass with stamped ornament, delicate lace collars and colored silk sling – performed above and beyond.

Although "defense of Cadiz" was the obvious creative success of Zurbaran, he left the Royal court and returned to Seville. Apparently, the artist felt that the historical genre is not consistent with his calling, and more was never contacted. However, "defense of Cadiz" by zurbarán and velázquez's work became the first historic paintings in European art: before a "historic" was understood mythological, and starting with velázquez and zurbarán partly (thanks to "the Defense of Cadiz") "historical" means modern.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Landscape, Genre scene

Style of art: Baroque

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1634

Size: 302×323 cm

Artwork in selections: 7 selections

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