It’s always so exciting to get a painting out of storage! I’m happy to report that a lovely seventeenth century portrait is newly on view in the Renaissance galleries (Main Level S103). It has been carefully cleaned and looks marvelous.
The Milwaukee Art Museum’s painting by Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish, 1598–1664), Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb, has been popular with museum goers since it entered the collection in 1958. This is probably not surprising, since Zurbarán’s work is infused with a humanity that connects instantly with viewers.
Some of this power derives from the fact that Zurbarán based his painting style on traditional polychrome sculptures found in Spanish churches. Just like his better-known contemporary, Diego Velazquez (Spanish, 1599–1660), Zurbarán’s hyper-realistic paintings helped to inspire devotion in seventeenth-century Catholic Spain. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how Zurbarán inspired devotion not only in seventeenth-century Spain, but also how he does it today.
What makes an artist influential? Most would say it the art he or she creates, because most likely that artwork was created in some sort of special way. And although that is true, I would argue that that is only part of the story. Let me show you what I mean.
This still life is probably one of the only signed paintings by Flemish flower painter Maria-Theresia van Thielen. It is truly a jewel of the collection!
Maria-Theresia van Thielen was one of three daughters of flower painter Jan Philips van Thielen. Her two sisters also became painters. The skillful and interesting composition of our painting sets it apart from most flower paintings by the van Thielen family; this may be why Maria-Theresia prominently signed it here on the pillar. There you can see “M.T. von Thielen” along with F. (for fecit, which is Latin for “made in”), Ano (short for Anno Domini, or A.D.) and the year, 1661.