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Orrente, Pedro de

Murcia (Spain), 1580 - Valencia (Spain), 1645

Known as "the Spanish Bassano," Orrente was highly successful in his time and was admired as a follower of the formulas established by that famous family of Venetian artists, especially in his series of paintings on Old-Testament subjects set in lush landscapes. He lived in various Spanish cities, moving from his native Murcia to Toledo at a young age (he was already there by 1600). The Bassano family's works were already very well known in Spain by then, and Toledo must have been especially receptive to Orrente's painting as a result. This was perfectly clear in the work of that city's finest masters at that time: Juan Sánchez Cotán copied their works, and even El Greco wrote of his admiration for Jacopo Bassano. It is hardly surprising that Orrente soon traveled to Venice. He began his voyage in 1602 and was there by 1605. It is reasonable to assume that he passed through Leandro Bassano's workshop, as Jusepe Martínez lists him as Orrente's teacher. He was back in Murcia by 1607 and continued his itinerant life among different Spanish cities, including Toledo (where he was close friends with El Greco's son, Jorge Manuel Theotocópuli) and Valencia. He must also have spent time in Madrid, as many of his works are listed in the inventories of both the Royal Collections and those of the nobility. During his stay in Venice he must have absorbed not only the Bassanos' approach to painting, but also their conception of it as a market-oriented activity. Fundamental, in that sense, was the treatment of religious subjects as genre scenes; lively series of bible episodes that invite the viewer to admire their variety and dynamism with a plethora of figures in the landscapes and a profusion of animals and everyday objects. This was mentioned by Jusepe Martínez in a comment on Orrente's fondness of "Old and New Testament stories in which the landscapes are combined with figures in a way that few others can equal." The fact that as many as thirty-two of his canvases appear in contemporary inventories of the Buen Retiro Palace reflects the success his creations then enjoyed. Such ample production suggests he had a well-organized workshop that continually repeated the models he established. That would also explain the enormous differences in quality among his catalogued works. And while Orrente was already praised for his Bassanesque pieces by contemporary writers, he also showed skill and versatility in other types of work. His first-hand knowledge of the creations of other Venetian masters allowed him to apply the teachings of Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese to his own work, and indeed, Veronese's approach is visible in Orrente's highly elaborated "Saint Leocadia" (Toledo Cathedral) and "Martyrdom of Saint James the Younger" (Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia San Pío V), where the large figures of the protagonists move elegantly through a fully staged space presented with a low viewpoint and slender buildings in the background. Moreover, the time he almost certainly spent in Rome would have placed him in an advantageous position to obtain direct knowledge of Caravaggesque painting at its apogee, as well as naturalism, both of which appear in his own works. Worthy of mention among the works associated with Orrente at the Museo del Prado are some from the Royal Collection that were part of the previously mentioned series painted for the Buen Retiro Palace. Many are from the Museo de la Trinidad, and most are workshop pieces. Also interesting are two modern purchases: "Saint John the Baptist on the Isle of Patmos" (1992) and "Saint John Chrysostom" (1993). These compositions reflect a less-known aspect of his work: the insertion of half-figures surrounded by landscape in thought-out naturalist studies (García López, D. in: Enciclopedia, 2006, vol. V, pp. 1644-1645).

Artworks (25)

Abraham e Isaac camino del sacrificio
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de
Viaje de Tobías y Sara
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de
Jacob en el pozo
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de (Workshop of)
Saint John Chrysostom
Oil on canvas, First half of the XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de
Tropas de Gedeón
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de (Copy)
Partida de Jacob con sus rebaños
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de (Copy)
Parábola de la cizaña
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de
La vuelta al aprisco
Oil on canvas, First half of the XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de
Jacob en el pozo
Oil on canvas, First half of the XVII century
Orrente, Pedro de (Workshop of)

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