Still Life with Meat and Tavern Scene Still Life of Fruit
(Alejandro de Loarte)


This still life and the following one, while they cannot be considered a pair, have always been together and remained unlined and tacked to their original stretchers until their recent cleaning. Important additions to Loarte’s small oeuvre, they are also extremely well preserved.

One of the still lifes in Loarte’s estate was called a despensa (larder). This term could be relevant to Still Life with Meat, Fowl and Tavern Scene, because the space in which the leg of lamb and the fowl are hanging is clearly demarked from the view beyond of men eating, playing cards and being served while children play. The execution of the hanging fowl definitely recalls The Poultry Vendor (Fig. 3.1), but even closer parallels can be found. A pair of unsigned still lifes, formerly in the Casa Torres collection and long attributed to Loarte, depict, respectively, fish and fowl hanging from rails in the foreground, with kitchen vignettes containing small figures in the background. Still Life with Fowl and Kitchen Scene (Fig. 3.2) is especially close to the painting catalogued here, and its attribution to Loarte is tenable, not least on the basis of the plate of giblets on the table, which closely resembles that in The Poultry Vendor. Moreover, there are close similarities in execution between the hanging chicken in the centre and the one in the signed Kitchen Still Life of 162S (Fig. 3.3), in the Varez Fisa collection, Madrid. The hanging rooster and hen in the ex-Casa Torres picture are exactly the same in design and execution as those that appear at the left of the painting catalogued here. Like Sanchez Cotan, Van der Hamen, and virtually all other still life painters of the time, Loarte seems to have worked from painted models in his studio, repeating certain forms in varying contexts.

The painting of the leg of lamb is a tour de force, and the deft brush strokes that define the plumage of the fowl display Loarte’s best talent. In realistically depicting the rail from which the meats are suspended, he makes a more specific reference to the real-life context of his subject matter than Sanchez Cotan had done, and he carries this even farther by opening up the background to show us the interior of a real bogedón. The sharp delineation of the foreground and background scenes is perhaps the most striking feature of this painting. It is probably the artist’s way of heightening, through contrast, our perception of the palpable reality of his inanimate subject matter.

19 ½ x 27 5/8 in. 49.5 x 70 cm.
Oil on canvas

Private collection, England.
Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd., London 1996.


William B Jordan and Peter Cherry, Spanish Still Life from Velázquez to Goya, exh. cat.,

London (The National Gallery), 1995, pp. 58-59, fig. 42.

The Matthiesen Gallery, London, and Stair Sainty Matthiesen Inc., New York, Paintings, exh. cat., 1996, pp. 17-19, ill.

Historical Period
Baroque - 1600-1720
Still Life - Other
1997-An Eye on Nature: Spanish Still Life Painting from Sanchez Cotan to Goya.
Hard and soft back catalogue of the Exhibition held in New York., 153 pages, fully illustrated with 23 colour plates and 65 black and white text illustrations. Forward by Patrick Matthiesen. Catalogue entries by Dr. William B. Jordan. £30 or $40 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
$100,000 - $150,000