Francisco de Zurbarán and Studio (Fuente de Cantos, Badajoz 1598-1664 Madrid)
Francisco de Zurbarán and Studio (Fuente de Cantos, Badajoz 1598-1664 Madrid)

The Archangel Michael vanquishing the Devil

Francisco de Zurbarán and Studio (Fuente de Cantos, Badajoz 1598-1664 Madrid)
The Archangel Michael vanquishing the Devil
oil on canvas
60 1/8 x 42 1/8 in. (153 x 107 cm.)
inscribed 'Franc de Zurbaran Phil/Regis Pictor faciebat' (lower left)
Linares collection, Madrid.
Puig Palau collection, Barcelona, c. 1950.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, Madrid, 6 October 2004, lot 88 (EUR 95,600).
P. Guinard, Zurbarán et les peintres espagnoles de la vie monastique, Ph.D. dissertation, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, 1960, p. 243, no. 297.
J. Gallégo and J.G. Ricart, Zurbarán, 1598-1664, Barcelona, 1976, no. 77.
Archivo Español de Arte, Madrid, 2005, XII, p. 218.
O. Delenda, 'Francisco de Zurbarán: los conjuntos y el obrador,' in Zurbarán: catálogo razonado y critico, Madrid, 2010, II, pp. 23, 376, no. 15.
Sale room notice
Please note that the inscription was removed when this painting was last conserved.

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Lot Essay

The previous condition of this painting greatly hindered its study; it was very dirty, with disfiguring retouches that raised doubts regarding its authorship. These doubts have been dispelled following its recent restoration. Upon removal of all the overpainting and oxidised varnishes, it has been examined by Drs. Odile Delenda and Benito Navarrete, and they agree that it is from the hand of Zurbarán (perhaps with the involvement of the atelier, according to Delenda). They date the painting to the decade of the 1640s, comparing it to the Altarpiece of Nuestra Seora de los Remedios in the Church of La Candelaria in Zafra. Dr. Navarrete is of the opinion that the present painting is a late work, from the period in which the artist relocated to Madrid, between 1658 and 1664, the year of his death.

Up until that time, Zurbarán's archetypes for angels were a synthesis of Flemish Mannerist models. Here, however, Saint Michael reveals a classicism of almost Raphaelesque origins that suggests familiarity with works by Sassoferrato, Carlo Dolci and Guido Reni, artists that were well represented in the Court collections. The artist combines his typical approach to the treatment of fabrics with a more evolved style in skin coloring. The legs and the raised arm, superbly drawn, manage to achieve greater gentleness while maintaining intense realism. The figure of the angel is extremely dynamic; the body negotiates a diagonal line that crosses the entire canvas, offset by the pink cloak that billows out in the wind behind it; Michael is portrayed at the very moment of assailing the demon. The motif of the ballooning cloak that frames the figure also appears in the 'Inmaculada', from 1661, in the Town Hall of Langon. The treatment of the features of the face is repeated in the numerous Blessed Virgins that Zurbarán painted during this period.

According to Dr. Delenda, this painting, which is distinguished by numerous pentimenti, was inspired in part by a late Mannerist composition engraved in Rome in 1583 by Francesco Potenzano (fig. 1).

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