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Juan Fernández el Labrador. Still Lifes Saturday, March 9, 2013

Opening this March, the Museo del Prado will be offering visitors a remarkable and probably unique opportunity to see almost every work that comprises the very small oeuvre of Juan Fernández El Labrador, one of the least known and most exquisite painters of the Spanish Baroque and an artist who specialised in still lifes.

The five works by the artist in the Prado’s collection will be shown alongside others that have never previously been exhibited in Spain, including Still Life with Grapes, Quinces and dried Fruit from the British Royal Collection, and Still Life with Grapes, Acorns and a Glass with Apples from a private Barcelona collection. They are joined by four more works from private collections and the Museo Cerralbo.

Juan Fernández el Labrador. Still Lifes

Vase of Flowers, Juan Fernández el Labrador, Oil on canvas, 44 x 34 cm, c. 1635 - 1636, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Opening at the Museo del Prado on 13 March is the first monographic exhibition on one of the most exquisite painters in 17th-century Europe: Juan Fernández El Labrador, who was active in Madrid between 1630 and 1636. El Labrador is one of the least known artists working in this genre and within the history of Spanish Baroque painting.

While El Labrador’s paintings have previously been included in survey exhibitions on the still life, this is the first time that almost all his oeuvre has been brought together. Comprising eleven of the thirteen painting attributed to him, the exhibition will help to promote greater knowledge of this enigmatic artist’s remarkable output.

In addition to bringing together almost all his known paintings for the first time, the exhibition will allow visitors to appreciate works that have never or very rarely been on public display in Spain. This is the case with Still Life of Grapes, Acorns and a Glass with Apples from a private Barcelona collection. It was formerly in the collection of the Dukes of Parcent and has not been seen in public since it was sold at auction in 1979. Similarly, Still Life with Grapes and Still Life with Grapes, Apples, dried Fruit and a terracotta Jug, both in private collections, have only been seen in exhibitions outside Spain, while Still Life with Grapes, Quinces and dried Fruit is in the British Royal Collection will be seen for the first time in Spain. That work arrived in Britain around 1634-35 after it was commissioned by the English Ambassador in Madrid who gave it to Charles I, one of the most sophisticated art collectors in Europe at the time and the owner of an outstanding collection. Charles patronised artists such as Orazio Gentileschi, Rubens and Van Dyck.

While El Labrador’s images of grapes and autumn fruit constitute his best known and most numerous works, there are also two flower paintings, one of which belongs to the Prado. It will hang alongside the other works in the small gallery of still lifes into which Room D in the Jerónimos Building will be transformed for the exhibition.

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