The Battle between Christians and Moors at El Sotillo
Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish, Fuente de Cantos 1598–1664 Madrid)
Oil on canvas
Arched top, 131 7/8 x 75 1/4 in. (335 x 191.1 cm)
Kretschmar Fund, 1920
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 611
In 1370 the Spanish forces were saved from a night ambush when a miraculous light revealed the hidden Moorish troops. This picture depicting the miraculous event was painted for the apse of the Carthusian monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Defensión in Jerez de la Frontera. It formed part of a large, three-tiered altarpiece which comprised fourteen paintings and additional sculptures. For a reconstruction, see metmuseum.org/collections.
Francisco de Zurbarán was the leading painter of religious images in Seville from the late 1620s until the late 1650s, when he moved to Madrid. His apprenticeship as a teenager in Seville coincided with that of Velázquez, who in 1623 went to Madrid as court painter. Zurbarán worked in Llerena, a market town north of Seville, between 1617 and 1628, but in 1626 he signed a contract with the Dominican monastery of San Pablo El Real in Seville, agreeing to supply twenty-one religious pictures within eight months. This commission was promptly followed by similar projects; the painter’s rapid rise in Seville was closely related to that of monastic institutions there, which increased in number from forty to nearly seventy during the first half of the century.
During the 1630s Zurbarán met the great demands of religious institutions (including some in Spain’s American colonies) by organizing a large and efficient workshop. He specialized in paintings of male and female saints and in imaginary portraits of historical churchmen, such as the Museum’s Saint Benedict (1976.100.21), and a series of eight full-length pictures of celebrated monks (Museo de Cádiz) painted in 1638–39 for the Carthusian monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Defensión (Our Lady of the Defense), located just outside the small city of Jerez de la Frontera, about fifteen miles northeast of Cádiz.
The Battle between Christians and Moors was painted about 1637–39 as part of a grander project for the same monastery at Jerez. This canvas, five others of similar size, and six much smaller pictures adorned the monumental wooden retable (retablo), or altarpiece ensemble, which filled the apse of the choir in the monastery’s church. The ensemble also featured life-size sculptures of the twelve Apostles and a Christ on the Cross, in polychromed wood, by José de Arce (see the reconstruction in Additional Images). The retable was completed about 1640 and dismantled shortly after 1835. No visual record is known and the architectural elements are lost.
The Reconstruction: Pemán (1950) was able to reconstruct major aspects of the retable’s design by studying traces of the construction on the walls and pavement of the choir. He determined that the altarpiece rose from a tall base through two stories and a large attic to a height of about fifteen meters (about forty-nine feet). The lateral sections of the architecture slanted slightly forward from the central section, like the wings of an open triptych (see the plan in Liedtke 1988, p. 156). Pemán also referred to a description of the altarpiece in a history of Jerez de la Frontera written about 1639–40 by the Hieronymite monk Estaban Rallón (Rallón 1926). Father Rallón describes the retable as having three stories (counting the attic), with Solomonic columns on the first story. He records the Museum’s painting as occupying the central compartment of the first level (immediately above the altar), with flanking scenes from the life of Christ, and, on the second level, paintings "in the same manner" (Rallón, as quoted in Baticle et al. 1987, p. 176). The sculpture of Christ on the Cross was central on the top story. A statue of an Apostle stood before each pair of columns (or pilasters, on the top story?), thus forming a complete series of the twelve Apostles (an Apostolado).
Pemán also considered the circumstantial evidence of earlier and contemporary retables, which allowed him to speculate plausibly about architectural elements that were not mentioned by Rallón (or in the brief account given by Antonio Ponz in his Viage de España, of 1792); about the placement of six small, single-figure paintings depicting the four Evangelists as well as the Spanish martyr Saint Lawrence and the Carthusian patron Saint John the Baptist (all now in the Museo de Cádiz); and about the arrangement of four large canvases depicting scenes from the Life of Christ, namely, The Annunciation, The Adoration of the Shepherds, The Adoration of the Magi and The Circumcision (all in the Musée de Grenoble). These standard subjects are frequently found in the lateral bays of Spanish retables, in various arrangements. However, slightly different dimensions and different notches originally cut into the top corners of the four canvases suggested to Pemán and later writers the pairings seen in the reconstruction illustrated here.
Furthermore, an inventory of the church dated September 5, 1835 (anticipating the following year’s suppression of monasteries and convents) specifies that The Annunciation and The Nativity (Adoration of the Shepherds) were to the left and right on the first story of the altarpiece, where a statue of the Virgin had been installed in the central bay (already recorded in Ponz 1792). In the second story, The Adoration of the Magi and The Circumcision were seen to the left and right, respectively, of a large painting of Saint Bruno, which is the Saint Bruno in Ecstasy in the Museo de Cádiz. (No Saint Bruno or other painting in the center of the second story is mentioned in Ponz 1792, where the four Grenoble pictures and the six small paintings of saints now in Cádiz are noted). The Battle between Christians and Moors had been taken to Paris in 1813 for display in the Musée Napoléon, although it was returned to Spain a few years later and was back in Jerez by 1823. Another large painting, The Virgin of the Rosary (The Virgin as Protectress of the Carthusian Order) (Muzeum Narodowe, Poznan), had been removed from the church in 1810, returned to Jerez in 1820, and like The Battle was sold to the French in 1837.
It seems highly improbable that the Saint Bruno was originally in the most prominent position on the Jerez retable, to judge from its iconography and design, and from the documentary evidence. The possibility was considered by Pemán (1950) and accepted by Delenda (2010, pp. 166–81), but rejected by Baticle (1987, p. 176) and most later writers (for example, Liedtke 1988, and Brown 1998, p. 261 n. 18). As Baticle observes, Rallón, writing when the retable was nearing completion, omits any mention of a monumental Saint Bruno, which he probably would have noted as a novelty on the high altar of a Carthusian church (Saint Bruno’s feast day was only added to the liturgy in 1623). Traditionally, Carthusian retables were devoted to the Life of Christ, as seen in the four Grenoble canvases. And the order’s patron saint—in this case the Virgin, or Virgin of the Rosary—not the order’s founder, would be expected as the most prominent image on a Carthusian retable, or any retable in Andalusia, during Zurbarán’s lifetime.
The subjects of the New York and Poznan pictures are closely related. In The Virgin of the Rosary, Carthusian monks adore the Virgin as Queen of Heaven, and miraculously receive from her the rosary. (The prayers and meditations of the rosary, counted on a string of beads, center on events in the life of Christ and of the Virgin, such as those represented in the four Grenoble paintings). The carpeted steps strewn with roses symbolize the ascent to knowledge of God. In The Battle, the Virgin and Child, again framed in a glory of angels, light up the sky above El Sotillo (The Little Grove) where Moors lay in ambush under cover of night (the event is dated to 1368). According to this typical story of the Reconquest, the Christian knights of Jerez were saved by the light of a celestial vision in which the Virgin appeared. A chapel (seen in the left background) was built at the site, near to which the monastery of Our Lady of the Defense was constructed from 1478 until the middle decades of the seventeenth century. Thus, the Virgin is presented on the retable as the protectress not only of the Carthusian order and of this Carthusian monastery but also of Jerez and of Christian Spain.
The painting of Saint Bruno must have been made for one of the side altars in the choir of the church, or for the sanctuary (sagrario) behind the retable where the eight portraits of Carthusian monks were hung. Adding the picture to the retable makes the ensemble incoherent in iconography and remarkably clumsy in design. In the present reconstruction of the retable, all the figures in the foregrounds of the six large paintings, including the monks in The Virgin of the Rosary, are close in size to the polychromed Apostles flanking each scene. Such consistency in scale is typical of Spanish retables throughout the period.
The design of the Jerez retable reveals many fine efforts to unify the whole, with diagonally arranged figures weaving in and out, a layer of clouds separating heaven and earth in each of the three paintings on the lower level, and figure groups and architecture building upward to the Virgin enthroned on the top tier of paintings, where the majestic image would have been visible from anywhere in the church. Zurbarán undoubtedly benefitted from his experience of Early Baroque painting in Madrid, where in 1634 he worked on two battle scenes (of which only the static Defense of Cádiz survives) and ten canvases depicting the Labors of Hercules, as part of the decoration of the Hall of Realms in the Buen Retiro palace (all eleven paintings are in the Museo del Prado, Madrid). The cavalry engagements painted by Vicente Carducho and Jusepe Leonardo for the same project (especially Carducho’s Siege of Rheinfelden with the gesturing Duke of Feria on a hill in the foreground) must have been remembered by Zurbarán when he designed The Battle between Christians and Moors. His groups of horsemen in the middle ground and background, however, were partly derived from an engraving by Antonio Tempesta (see Navarrete Prieto 1994).
Later History:The Battle was probably removed from the retable in the mid-1700s, since Ponz (1792) records "a new statue of Our Lady" in the nicho principal, adding that he preferred the sculpture of the Virgin that had been there previously. Simple questions of taste or patronage could explain why the Order preferred a statue of their protectress right over the altar, but it is worth noting that The Battle of Christians and Moors was much less relevant to local and national history in the 1700s than it was in the 1630s, when Spain was fighting wars of religion and defending national boundaries on several fronts in Europe. Ponz says nothing about a painting of Saint Bruno anywhere in the church, but observes that the paintings of the Virgin of the Rosary and the Battle of El Sotillo were "put up on the walls" of the lay brothers’ choir (see Liedtke 1988, pp. 155, 162 n. 21). This apparently provisional location (there is no mention of altars of frames) probably explains why these two canvases were carted off (The Virgin in 1810 and The Battle in 1813) before the others were removed and sold (the Grenoble pictures in 1837). The Virgin of the Rosary must have seemed redundant once a large statue of the Virgin was installed on the retable; Ponz’s silence on the subject would suggest that the Saint Bruno in Ecstasy was installed on the retable at some time after his account of 1792 and before the painting’s first known mention in the church (1835). Even at this later date, the placement of an oversized Saint Bruno on the retable was probably acceptable only because a large statue of the Virgin had replaced the battle scene.
Few paintings in the Metropolitan Museum demonstrate so clearly as The Battle of Christians and Moors what is lost by the removal of a work from its original context, which in this case was a Baroque ensemble of least a dozen paintings, thirteen polychromed sculptures, and a great wall of gilded wooden architecture—to say nothing of local and national history, the devotion of a monastic community, communal faith and civic pride.
[Walter Liedtke 2014]
Monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Defensión, Jerez de la Frontera (by about 1640–1813); Musée Napoléon, Paris (from 1813; inv. no. 349; restored to Spain after 1814); Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid (by 1818–23; inv. 1818, no. 81); Jerez de la Frontera, (by 1823– at least 1835/37; inventory 1835; sold by José Cuesta of Seville to Baron Isidore Taylor for King Louis Philippe, June 26, 1837, for 40,000 reales); Louis Philippe, King of France, Paris (1838–d. 1850; exhibited in his Galerie Espagnole, Musée du Louvre, 1838–48, nos. 355/365; his estate, 1850–53; his sale, Christie's, London, May 20, 1853, no. 405, for £160 to Farrer for Labouchère); Henry Labouchère, 1st Baron Taunton, Stoke (near Windsor) (1853–d. 1869); his daughter, Mary Dorothy Labouchère (later Mrs. Edward James Stanley), Quantock Lodge, Bridgewater, Somerset, and Cross Hall, Lancashire (from 1869); [Captain R. Langton Douglas, London, 1920; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Zurbarán," September 22–December 13, 1987, no. 30.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Zurbarán," January 14–April 11, 1988, no. 30.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "Zurbarán," May 3–July 30, 1988, no. 50.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting," March 4–June 8, 2003, no. 87.
E. Rallón Mercado. Historia de Xerez de la Frontera. [probably before 1640], unpaginated [ms. probably written before 1640 according to Ref. Baticle 1987, p. 175]; published in part, 1926, pp. 139 f. [not in MMA; excerpts reprinted in Ref. Pemán 1950, pp. 226–27], describes the original appearance of the altarpiece above the main altar of the monastery church at Jerez, observing that "el milagro de la Defensión" is depicted in the main compartment of the first story and that the bays of the first and second storys are decorated with paintings of the life of Christ; admires the quality of the painting but does not specify the artist's name; elsewhere in the text [see Ref. Baticle, p. 192] places the miraculous intervention of the Virgin at El Sotillo in 1368.
Bartolomé Gutiérrez. Historia de Jerez de la Frontera. 1787, pp. 231–32 [see Ref. Baticle 1987].
D. Antonio Ponz. Viage de España, en que se da noticia de las cosas mas apreciables, y dignas de saberse, que hay en ella. Vol. 17, Madrid, 1792, p. 278, notes that a painting of the Virgin of the Rosary [now Muzeum Narodowe, Poznan], and one depicting "Our Lady aiding the inhabitants of Xerez in a battle which they won from the Moors" were put up on the walls of the lay brothers' choir.
D. Juan Agustín Ceán Bermúdez. Diccionario histórico de los más ilustres profesores de las bellas artes en España. Madrid, 1800, vol. 6, p. 51, mentions this painting as hanging with a Virgin and Child in the lay brothers' choir.
Notice des tableaux de la Galerie Espagnole exposés dans les salles du Musée Royal au Louvre. Paris, 1838, 1st ed., no. 355; 4th ed., no. 365 [see Ref. Baticle 1987].
Richard Ford. "Sale of Louis Philippe's Spanish Pictures." Athenæum (May 14, 21, 28, 1853), unpaginated, [see Ref. Baticle 1987].
William Stirling-Maxwell. Annals of the Artists of Spain. 2nd rev. ed. [1st ed. 1848]. London, 1891, vol. 3, p. 924, dates the paintings for the high altar to about 1633.
Enrique Romero de Torres. "Los Zurbaranes del Museo de Cádiz." Boletín de la Comisión Provincial de Monumentos de Cádiz 1 (1908), p. 100, [see Ref. Baticle 1987].
Elías Tormo y Monzó. "El despojo de los Zurbaranes de Cádiz, el viaje de Taylor, y la efímera Galería Española del Louvre." Cultura española 13 (1909), pp. 31–32, [see Ref. Baticle 1987].
José Cascales y Muñoz. Francisco de Zurbarán: His Epoch, His Life and His Works. New York, 1918, pp. 43, 54–56, refers to it as seemingly lost.
Hugo Kehrer. Francisco de Zurbarán. Munich, 1918, p. 71, cites it as a missing work.
Harry B. Wehle. "A Painting by Zurbarán." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (November 1920), pp. 242–45, ill., identifies this picture as the battle scene described by Ponz at Jerez, noting that when it first entered the Museum it bore the title "The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa"; dates it "within a year or two of 1637" and suggests that the figure on the white horse "directing the battle" is Saint James.
August L. Mayer. Letter. December 31, 1921, identifies our painting as no. 355 of Louis-Philippe's Galerie Espagnole.
Valerian von Loga. Die Malerei in Spanien vom XIV. bis XVIII. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1923, p. 275, cites it as a lost work.
Pedro Gutiérrez de Quijano y López. La Cartuja de Jerez. Jerez, Spain, 1924, pp. 40–41, 45, as said to be in America now.
Pedro Beroqui. "Apuntes para la historia del Museo del Prado." Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones 40 (1932), p. 97, publishes a document from 1810 or shortly thereafter with a list of paintings, including our painting, mandated for France by Joseph I.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 235, ill., identifies the battle depicted here as "the decisive battle [of the Christians] against the Moors at Jerez in 1340"; calls it "one of a series which Zurbarán painted (about 1633–1639)" for the monastery at Jerez.
Martin Soria. "Francisco de Zurbarán: A Study of His Style I." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 25 (January 1944), p. 48, fig. 11, dates it about 1636.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. Zurbarán. Barcelona, 1948, pp. 30, 46, no. 148, dates it to 1638–39; criticizes Zurbarán's depiction of horses.
Martin S. Soria. "Some Flemish Sources of Baroque Painting in Spain." Art Bulletin 30 (December 1948), p. 255, fig. 12, observes that the composition of this picture was inspired by an engraving by the Flemish artist, Schelte á Bolswert published in 1624 and depicting Saint Augustine Appearing to Francesco Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (fig. 10).
Paul Guinard. "Los conjuntos dispersos o desaparecidos de Zurbarán: Anotaciones a Ceán Bermúdez (III)." Archivo español de arte 22 (January–March 1949), pp. 14–20, pl. 6 (hypothetical reconstruction), suggests a reconstruction of the altarpiece, identifying the two angels with censers in the Museo de Cádiz as those seen by Ponz on the doors of the sacristy; wonders if the "Virgin of the Rosary" in Poznan was at the center of the second story, but thinks not, as he erroneously believes its dimensions to be different from those of our canvas; suggests in its place a statue of the "Virgin de la Defensión".
César Pemán. "La reconstrucción del retablo de la Cartuja de Jerez de la Frontera." Archivo español de arte 23 (July–September 1950), pp. 203–27, discusses in detail available evidence regarding the original design of the altarpiece and its site, including impressions left in the plaster of the cathedral walls from the mouldings of the original framing architecture; considers the placement of the Virgin and Child in Poznan over our painting the simplest solution to the reconstruction, but is troubled that two images of the Virgin result, and wonders about the appropriateness of a Virgin of the Rosary over the high altar of a Carthusian church; instead suggests the "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy" (Museo de Cádiz) of about the same size, shape and date as our painting, and also from the monastery, was originally above the Battle on the retable.
Martin S. Soria. The Paintings of Zurbarán. London, 1953, pp. 8, 16, 24, 31, 164–65, no. 133, pl. 62, observes that the Poznan "Virgin of the Rosary" (cat. no. 134, p. 165) was perhaps in the second tier, center, of the altarpiece, above our painting.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 341, no. 3044, as depicting a victory of the people of Jerez against the Moors at El Sotillo with the intervention of Saint James; dates it about 1638–39.
Paul Guinard. Zurbarán et les peintres espagnols de la vie monastique. Paris, 1960, pp. 105, 131, 198–200, 277, no. 570, ill., support's Pemán's 1950 reconstruction of the altar with "St. Bruno in Ecstasy" above our painting.
César Pemán. "Zurbarán en la hora actual." Revista de estudios extremeños 17 (1961), unpaginated, following p. 284 (hypothetical reconstruction).
Paul Guinard. "Zurbarán en France." Revista de estudios extremeños 17 (1961), p. 369.
Julián Gállego. La peinture espagnole. Paris, 1962, p. 122.
Ramón Torres Martín. Zurbarán: El pintor gótico del siglo XVII. Seville, 1963, unpaginated, no. 195, pl. 64.
César Pemán. "Miscelánea zurbaranesca." Archivo español de arte 37 (April–September 1964), pp. 103–4, reconfirms his belief that the large "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy" in Cádiz was originally above our painting in the altarpiece.
Consuelo Sanz-Pastor inExposición Zurbarán en el III centenario de su muerte. Exh. cat., Casón del Buen Retiro. [Madrid], , pp. 43, 73–75.
Paul Guinard. "¿Zurbarán, pintor de paisajes?" Goya (January–April 1965), pp. 210, 213, ill. (detail), observes in the landscape a combination of elements found in other pictures and describes the effect of the painting as a "theater for the meditation of hermits or monks".
José Gudiol inEncyclopedia of World Art. Vol. 17, New York, 1967, col. 972.
Anna Dobrzycka. "Madonna Rózancowa Zurbarana w Poznanskim Muzeum." Studia Muzealne 6 (1968), pp. 49–56, ill., suggests that the Poznan "Virgin of the Rosary" was the center of the first tier of the altarpiece, and that the Apotheosis of Saint Bruno in Cádiz was above it; according to her reconstruction, our painting was not originally part of the altarpiece.
Ilse Hempel Lipschutz. Spanish Painting and the French Romantics. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 125, 133, 225, 319, 393–94 n. 34.
Tiziana Frati. L'opera completa di Zurbarán. Milan, 1973, pp. 103–5, no. 251, ill., dates it to 1638.
Jonathan Brown. Francisco de Zurbarán. New York, , pp. 36–37, 114, colorpl. 28, fig. 39 (reconstruction).
Xavier de Salas. An Illustrated Inventory of Famous Dismembered Works of Art: European Painting. Paris, 1974, pp. 117–18, 124–26, ill., places the "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy" at the center of the second tier, above our painting.
José Gudiol in Julián Gállego and José Gudiol. Zurbarán, 1598–1664. New York, 1977, pp. 28, 40, 86, no. 126, fig. 134, place the "St. Bruno in Ecstasy" above our painting on the original altarpiece; note that our painting reveals the artist's weakness in narrative painting.
Denys Sutton. "Robert Langton Douglas, Part III, XVII: Dramatic Days." Apollo, n.s., 109 (June 1979), p. 454, ill. p. 449.
Jeannine Baticle and Cristina Marinas. La Galerie Espagnole de Louis-Philippe au Louvre, 1838–1848. Paris, 1981, pp. 232–33, no. 365, ill.
Enrique Valdivieso. Historia de la pintura sevillana: Siglos XIII al XX. Seville, 1986, p. 186, follows reconstruction of the altarpiece with this painting in the center of the first tier, below the "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy".
Jeannine Baticle and Alain Roy. L'age Baroque en Espagne et en Europe septentrionale. Geneva, [1986?], p. 94.
Carlos Fuentes. "Zurbarán's Theater of Martyrs." Art News 86 (October 1987), pp. 118–19, ill. (color).
Jeannine Baticle et. al. Zurbarán. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1987, pp. 28–30, 58, 173–80, 192–95, no. 30, ill. (in color, and as part of reconstruction), notes that the date of the battle depicted here remains uncertain and states that if Martín de Roa's information is accurate [Santos Honorio, Eutichio, Estevan, patronos de Xerez de la Frontera, nombre, sitio, antigüedad de la ciudad, Seville, 1617], the ambush at El Sotillo took place at the time of the first reconquest of Jerez, in 1248"; also reports Rallón Mercado's [see Ref. before 1640] 1368 date for the miracle, and comments that Jerez was ravaged by the Moors until the end of the reign of Pedro the Cruel in 1369; describes in detail the history of the altarpiece from the 17th century; doubts that the Cádiz "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy" was in the center of the second tier, finding the subject inappropriate for the high altar of a Carthusian church, and adding that it would be unusual for a canvas with a rounded top to be surmounted by a canvas of the same shape; believes that our battle scene was removed from the retable "in Zurbarán's time, because the "Virgin of the Rosary"... must have been intended as a pendant to [it]"; rejects Soria's assumption [see Ref. Soria 1948] that the scene was taken from an engraving by Schelte à Bolswert, noting that other models can be found in contemporary Spanish art, and states that the pikeman was inspired by the harquebusier looking out of the picture at the extreme left in Velázquez's "Surrender of Breda" (Prado, Madrid).
Enriqueta Harris. "Paris: Zurbarán." Burlington Magazine 130 (March 1988), p. 253, notes that several canvases (including this one) were exhibited as an altarpiece in Louis-Philippe's Galerie Espagnole.
Odile Delenda. "Zurbarán, interprète idéal de la Contre-Réforme espagnole." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 38, no. 2 (1988), pp. 123, 126 n. 53, ill.
Walter A. Liedtke. "Zurbarán's Jerez Altarpiece Reconstructed." Apollo, n.s., 127 (March 1988), pp. 155–62, ill. (color), places the Poznan "Virgin of the Rosary" in the center of the second tier, over our painting, stressing that at the time of the Counter-Reformation, the Carthusian order "claimed to have miraculously received the rosary before the Dominicans"; publishes a detailed reconstruction, including the sculptural elements, as well as two paintings of angels with censers now in the Museo de Cádiz.
Odile Delenda. "Zurbarán." Le petit journal 177 (January 1988), unpaginated, no. 30, ill. (as part of reconstruction).
Enrique Valdivieso. "Nouvelles perspectives sur Zurbarán." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 39, no. 1 (1989), p. 22.
Santiago Alcolea. Zurbarán. Barcelona, 1989, p. 13, describes it as of "uneven quality".
Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Pintura barroca en España (1600–1750). Madrid, 1992, p. 197.
María Luisa Caturla. Francisco de Zurbarán. Paris, 1994, pp. 150–53, 169 n. 83, ill. (color), places it in the center of the lower tier below the Cádiz "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy".
Prieto. "Otras fuentes grabadas utilizadas por Francisco de Zurbarán." Archivo español de arte 67 (October–December 1994), pp. 360–62, 368, ill. (details), states that Zurbarán borrowed motifs from Antonio Tempesta's engraving of a battle between Christians and Moors.
Claudie Ressort inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 33, New York, 1996, p. 731.
Janis Tomlinson. From El Greco to Goya: Painting in Spain 1561–1828. New York, 1997, pp. 71–73, 75, ill. (color).
Enrique Pareja López. Francisco de Zurbarán: 1598–1998. Exh. cat., Museo Obispado CajaSur de Bellas Artes. Córdoba, 1997, p. 96, ill. p. 19 (color).
Enrique Valdivieso. Zurbaran: IV centenario. Exh. cat., Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla. Seville, 1998, pp. 58–60, ill. (color), notes that the artist borrowed figures from Tempesta's and Stradanus's engravings.
Jeannine Baticle. "Zurbarán vu par Dauzats en 1836." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 132 (October 1998), pp. 102, 107, ill. (photograph and Dauzat's sketches after our painting), reproduces Adrien Dauzats's 1836 notebook with drawings and notes on the Jerez altarpiece.
Benito Navarrete Prieto. La pintura andaluza del siglo XVII y sus fuentes grabadas. Madrid, 1998, pp. 281–83, ill. (details).
Benito Navarrete Prieto. "Zurbarán y el rompecabezas de la creación." Actas del Simposium Internacional: Zurbarán y su época, Fuente de Cantos, Llerena, Guadalupe. Mérida, 1998, pp. 76–77, ill. (details).
Francisco Javier Pizarro Gómez. "Zurbarán y el zurbaranismo en América. El caso de Puebla." Actas del Simposio Internacional, Zurbarán y su época: Fuente de Cantos, Llerena, Guadalupe. Mérida, 1998, p. 137.
Benito Navarrete in "Aportaciones a los Zurbaranes de la Cartuja de Jerez." Zurbarán, estudio y conservación de los monjes de la Cartuja de Jerez [this book was printed but never distributed]. Madrid, 1998, unpaginated, ill. (overall in color and details), cites two inventories from 1820 which place the "Ecstacy of Saint Bruno" in the second tier above our painting.
James Hogg. "Francisco de Zurbarán." Analecta cartusiana 156 (1999), p. 35.
Odile Delenda. Sur la terre comme au ciel, Zurbarán: Le retable de Jerez de la Frontera. [Paris], 1999, pp. 6, 13, 36–40, 43–44, 130–31, ill. (in color, and as part of reconstruction), supports reconstruction of "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy" above our painting.
Benito Navarrete Prieto and Jeannine Baticle. Zurbarán ante su centenario [1598–1998]: Textos de la ponencias presentadas en el Seminario de Historia de Arte en Soria. Ed. Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Valladolid, 1999, pp. 135, 137–38, 182, 186–87, ill. (details).
Enrique Pareja López inFrancisco de Zurbarán, 1598–1664. Exh. cat., Centro Cultural la General. Granada, 1999, pp. 63, 132, ill. (reconstruction, color), follows reconstruction of altarpiece with "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy" above our painting.
Véronique Gerard Powell. Autour de Zurbarán: Catalogue raisonné des peintures de l'école espagnole du XVe au XIXe siècles du Musée de Grenoble. Paris, 2000, pp. 11, 36–41, 44 n. 38, p. 66, ill. (color), places "St. Bruno in Ecstasy" above our painting in the altarpiece, noting that it was customary to have images of an order's founder on the main altar.
Odile Delenda inZurbarán: La obra final: 1650–1664. Exh. cat., Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. Bilbao, 2000, p. 46.
José Marín-Medina inFrancisco de Zurbarán y su obrador: Obras en España y en el Virreynato del Perú. Exh. cat., Torreón de Lozoya. Segovia, , p. 38.
Javier Portús Pérez in Gary Tinterow and Geneviève Lacambre. Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. New York, 2003, pp. 22, 24, 38, 99 n. 39, pp. 105, 108 n. 72, pp. 180, 377, 463–64, no. 87, ill. p. 463 and fig. 3.12 (color) [French ed., Manet/Velázquez: La manière espagnole au XIXe siècle, Paris, 2002, p. 304, fig. 19 (color)], believes our scene was at the center of the altarpiece; notes that the division of battle scenes into planes with larger figures in the foreground has close precedents in Spanish art, and was particularly favored by the artists decorating the Hall of Realms in the Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid; adds that Zurbarán himself had contributed paintings to that decorative ensemble.
Matthias Weniger inGreco, Velázquez, Goya: Spanische Malerei aus deutschen Sammlungen. Ed. Matthias Weniger. Exh. cat., Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg. Munich, 2005, p. 102, under no. 38.
Charlotte Hale. "Dating Velázquez's 'The Supper at Emmaus'." Metropolitan Museum Journal 40 (2005), p. 71, notes that the type of canvas (called 'mantelillo' or 'mantel') used for this painting was "woven with intermittent clusters of small diamonds," and was used during the seventeenth century in Naples, Toledo, and Seville.
Odile Delenda inZurbarán. Exh. cat., Museum Kunstpalast. Düsseldorf, 2015, pp. 27–28, fig. 9 (reconstruction, color), p. 80, under no. 12.
Almudena Ros de Barbero inZurbarán. Exh. cat., Museum Kunstpalast. Düsseldorf, 2015, pp. 120, 123, under nos. 30–31.
Almudena Ros de Barbero inZurbarán: A New Perspective. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Madrid], , pp. 92, 94, under nos. 16–17.
Odile Delenda inZurbarán: A New Perspective. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Madrid], , pp. 25, 88, fig. 37 (reconstruction, color), under no. 15.
José Fernández López inZurbarán: A New Perspective. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Madrid], , p. 42.
This painting was the main compartment of a three-tiered altarpiece executed by Zurbarán between 1638 and 1639 for the apse of the church of the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Defensión at Jerez de la Frontera. Both a "Virgin of the Rosary" (Muzeum Narodowe, Poznan) and a "Saint Bruno in Ecstasy" (Museo de Cádiz)—each of which has a rounded top and dimensions close to those of our battle scene—have been proposed as the work that was originally installed above our picture on the second tier of the altarpiece. There is still no clear consensus about this part of the reconstruction. Four large rectangular paintings with scenes from the life of Christ, all now in the Musée de Peinture et de Sculpture, Grenoble, decorated the bays of the first and second tiers: the Annunciation, Adoration of the Shepherds, Adoration of the Magi, and a Circumcision. At the center of the third tier was a polychromed wood sculpture of Christ on the Cross by José de Arce (present whereabouts unknown), and life-size statues of the apostles, also by Arce (now at the Jerez monastery), were situated to the right and left of each painting. Six smaller pictures depicting the four evangelists, Saint Lawrence, and Saint John the Baptist, all now in the Museo de Cádiz, were also part of the ensemble, and two angels with censers, also in the Cádiz museum, must have been on the doors on either side of the altar table. At some point before 1792, the "Battle of El Sotillo" and the "Virgin of the Rosary" were taken from their original settings and hung on the walls of the lay brothers' choir, where they were seen by Ponz (see Ref. 1792)