The Centre d’Art d’Època Moderna (CAEM) of the Universitat de Lleida attributes an artwork to Zurbarán
CAEM researchers attribute to the Extremaduran master a splendid Saint Agnes, that once belonged to the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection.
It is an oil on canvas measuring 140.7 x 105.6 cm in which Saint Agnes is represented, with a lamb in her arms, her most distinctive attribute. This artwork had captivated numerous art historians for more than a century and a half, who rightly considered it “one of the most beautiful saints executed by Zurbarán”.
The artwork, from the collection of the Duke of Béjar, was acquired in 1957 by Baron H. H. Thyssen-Bornemisza, until, in 1984, it was sold to an anonymous collector. From then on, it is known that it passed through several more owners, always acquired as a Francisco de Zurbarán of undeniable quality. However, in 2010 his paternity was questioned. It was then attributed, in a barely convincing way, to the little-known “Master of San Hermenegildo”: a minor master, of whom only one work is known for sure, of much lower artistic quality than this Saint Agnes.
After being acquired by its current owner, finally in 2020, the work ended up at the CAEM, where it has been studied with absolute scientific rigor. It has been analyzed live, in great detail, and with a transversal perspective, in which the researchers of the centre participated, as well as other renowned specialists. The result has been overwhelming: after more than two years of research and with the precise application of various multi-band and chemical analyses, the CAEM research group concludes that this magnificent Santa Inés is an indisputable work by Zurbarán. Surely this is one of the few works that has been made entirely by his hand, fully coinciding with the opinion held for more than a century and a half by the best art historians in the country.
The result of this exhaustive investigation has been published with abundant and precise illustrations in a bilingual Spanish-English version.