Although Zurbarán frequently included still life elements in his subject pictures, he painted very few independent still lifes. The motif of the cup of water on a silver plate with a rose appears in two religious subject paintings by him and in the celebrated 'Still Life with Basket of Oranges' of 1633 (Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena). This work was probably painted in about 1630.

The silver plate is of a kind imported into Spain from Peru. Here the objects may be intended to have a symbolic character: the water in the cup perhaps refers to the Virgin's purity and the flower recalls her title of 'Mystic Rose'.

The canvas has been cut on three sides but the composition is likely to be substantially complete.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1598 - 1664
Full title
A Cup of Water and a Rose
Date made
about 1630
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
21.2 x 30.1 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought for the National Gallery by the George Beaumont Group, 1997
Inventory number
NG6566
Location in Gallery