Auction Lot: 35121880
Estimated Value : 2500-2800 €

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Workshop of ANTONIO DEL CASTILLO Y SAAVEDRA (Cordoba, 1616 - 1668).
"Salome receiving the head of Saint John the Baptist".
Oil on canvas. Preserves original canvas.
Presents inscription on the back.
Measurements: 66 x 50 cm; 75 x 59 cm (frame).
Herodias, wife of Herod Philip, married in a scandalous way with his half-brother, Herod Antipas, which provoked a war, since Herod Antipas had repudiated his previous wife, daughter of the Nabataean monarch. The attitude of the new marriage was highly criticised by the people, as it was considered sinful, and one of those who denounced it the most was John the Baptist, for which he was arrested, although Herod did not dare to execute him for fear of the people's wrath. According to tradition, Salome, a woman of great beauty, danced for her stepfather, and he enthusiastically offered to grant her the prize she desired. The young woman then asked, following her mother's instructions, for the Baptist's head, which was given to her "on a silver platter". This work stands out for its narrative unity, as we can appreciate the precise moment when Salome receives the head of the saint, who has just been beheaded. The dramatic way in which the saint's body is presented to the viewer is particularly noteworthy, and is heightened by the way in which Salome steps on the dead body of Saint John.
Due to the technical characteristics of the work, this painting can be classified as one of Antonio del Castillo's artistic circle. Considered the father of the Cordovan school, known for his work as a painter, he was also a polychromator and designer of architectural, decorative and goldsmith's projects. He was the son of Agustín del Castillo, a little-known painter from Llerena (Extremadura) whom Palomino describes as an "excellent painter". It is also thought that he may have trained as a polychromator in Calderón's workshop. However, he was orphaned when he was only ten years old in 1626 and went on to train in the workshop of another painter of whom we have no record, Ignacio Aedo Calderón. Although there is no real evidence of this, it is thought that he may have arrived in Seville, where, according to Palomino, he entered Zurbarán's workshop. This has been corroborated by the stylistic influence of the Extremaduran master that historians have seen in Castillo's work. However, in 1635 he returned to his native Cordoba, where he married and settled permanently, eventually becoming the city's most important artist without question. His fame and quality earned him important commissions, including religious altarpieces, portraits and medium-format series. He was also the teacher of outstanding Cordoban painters of the following generation, such as Juan de Alfaro and Gámez. With regard to his language, Antonio del Castillo did not develop an obvious evolution in his work, although towards the end of his life a more softened language can be discerned, and he remained on the fringes of the baroque innovations of other contemporary painters. However, like the rest of his contemporaries, he was seduced by the novelty of Murillo's work, and in his last years he introduced the Venetian chromatic softness of the Sevillian master. Today, examples can be found in the Prado Museum, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the J. Paul Getty in Los Angeles, the Louvre, the Metropolitan in New York, etc.



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