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The Golden Age of Russian Impressionism

Pedro Orrente (1580 - 1645)

Pedro Orrente
(1580 - 1645)
      Secular Narratives Art Work
Name: Pedro Orrente
Gender: Male
Place of Birth: Murcia ?
Nationality: Spanish
Birth: 1580
Death: 1645
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   Quick Facts
Known For: Secular Narratives
Medium: Oil on canvas
Style: Spanish Baroque
Fine Art Profession(s): Painter

One of the leading Castilian painters of the first half of the seventeenth century, Pedro Orrente created a particularly happy adaptation of Venetian sources (especially the Bassani) in his work. Although his place of birth is not known, scholars assume it to be Murcia. Orrente's training must have taken place in Toledo, where we know he was living by 1600. His absence from Spanish documents between 1604 and 1612, together with the powerful Italian flavor of his work, strongly suggest a trip to Italy and perhaps a stint in Leandro Bassano's studio. Upon his return to Spain, Orrente was one of the trendsetters in Spanish painting, bringing with him a knowledge of Italian painting that was valued among knowledgeable patrons in Castile, most notably Cardinal Bernardo Sandoval y Rojas, archbishop of Toledo from 1599 to his death in 1618. Orrente worked intermittently in Toledo, and much of the time from 1612 to 1632 in Valencia and his native Murcia, commuting back and forth between commissions. From 1628 to 1631 we know he was in Toledo, and in 1632 he returned to his native Murcia, but in 1638 (some sources say 1644) he was documented in Valencia, where he evidently remained until his death in 1645. Identification of his oeuvre is somewhat hampered by the absence of signed or dated pictures, although a few survive from about 1615 to 1619. His stylistic development needs further study. Orrente's best-known pictures are biblical scenes, generally featuring Old and New Testament subjects replete with rustic, pastoral settings, animals, and people. These have a strong Venetian flavor, indicating his reliance on the Bassani. A notable example is his Laban Comes to Jacob at the Well (Madrid, Prado), part of the story of Jacob. For Toledo, Orrente painted altarpieces (such as his Adoration of the Magi, Toledo, El Catedral) also interpreted in a Venetian mode, although the indigenous interest in realism is already evident in the picture. Orrente's first known signed painting, Miracle of Saint Leocadia (Toledo, El Catedral) done for Cardinal Sandoval y Rojas in 1617, has the characteristically Spanish interest in earthy realism, as evidenced by the portrait-like faces of the protagonists and the general solidity of the forms. Orrente's Venetian experience was not lost, however, for it betrays compositional elements and vantage points derived from his study of Veronese. One of Orrente's finest surviving pictures is Martyrdom of St. Sebastian (Valencia, Cathedral) originally the central component to a retable commissioned for the chapel of the Covarmbias family in the Valencia Cathedral. Based on a print after Guido ReniV Samson (Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale), it takes that idealized nude figure and injects a masterful level of realism that is certainly Caravaggist in spirit. The evocative landscape, on the other hand, is Venetian in origin.

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