Gianlucca Bocchi, Pittori di Natura Morta a Roma, Artisti Stranieri 1630 – 1750, Verona 2005. pp. 13 – 22. ill. Fig. FH3.
A Larder scene with a Large Nautilus shell on a ledge, a blue and white delft earthenware tin glazed pot with roses and jasmine flowers to the right. Game birds including grey and red legged Partridges, a woodcock, thrushes and a rabbit either hanging on hooks or in a pile in the centre foreground. Various sea and freshwater fishes and eels left below vegetables and fruit. A Savoy cabbage, onions, a cucumber, radishes and kale. To the right a silver bowl of fruit with figs, grapes and apples.
An artist recorded by sources as a master of illustrating marine fauna in Rome is the noble Francisco de Herrera the Younger from Seville, who must be considered amongst the most interesting and competent artists of Spanish Baroque, skilled as a painter, architect, engraver and scene painter.
He was born in 1627 in Seville, the son of Doña Maria de Hinestrosa, a noblewoman, and the painter Francisco de Herrera the Elder(circa 1590 – 1654), on of the best interpreters of Andalusian naturalism in the first half of the seventeenth century, a contemporary of Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) and perhaps the first master of Velázquez (1599-1660). Once established in Rome, he decided to perfect his knowledge by immersing himself in baroque culture, though in order to make a living he painted fish. Portraying them with such natural ability that he was nicknamed the ‘Spangolo degli pesci’.
Francisco’s arrival in Italy, still in his twenties, presented himself as a painter who was already endowed with a great talent for representations of still life nurtured at his Father’s studio which was dedicated to the production of Bodegoncillos with such realism as to be completely deceptive. His sojourn in Rome would last until 1650, when documents show he returned to his native country to go to Madrid, where he stayed until the death of his Father in 1654 that caused him to return to Seville.
Certainly unknown to both Jordan and Cherry, is this stupendous Bodegón that we show here, which was first published in 1992 placing into evidence how it represents a work of fundamental importance for knowledge about the Artist, insomuch as it is signed. It is an exceptional Still Life rich in fruit, flowers, vegetables, marine fauna and game, a shell and a ceramic vase that presents archaic motifs derived from Alejandro de Loarte (c.1600-1626) and from Jan van der Hamen y León (1596-1631), assembled according to a style that recalls that of his peer Francisco Barrera (1595- after 1657), though more laboured and less certain in his design, in the proportion of volumes and in the recession of spatial planes. The refined Delft ceramic vase, a typical hand made product of the 1640/50’s, is proof of the diffusion of artisanal products which attained also in southern Europe, in Italy as in Spain following the increasingly intense commerce with the Netherlands.