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Francisco de Zurbarán

1598 - 1664

Between the departure of Velázquez to Madrid in 1623 and the rise to prominence of Murillo in the 1650s, Zurbarán was the leading painter in Seville. His pictures were mostly painted for Spanish religious orders. The distinctive style of Zurbarán was influenced by the realism of Caravaggio and his followers. His best work is both very direct and intensely spiritual.

Zurbarán was born in Fuente de Cantos, near Badajoz. In 1617, after training in Seville, he returned to Llerena in his native province. By 1629 he was back in Seville, where he became the city's official painter.

In 1634 he was in Madrid painting mythologies for the Buen Retiro, Philip IV's new palace, perhaps through the intervention of his friend Velázquez. His last years were not so successful and he died in Madrid in poverty.