The art of Juan de Valdés Leal, 1622–1690


In ictu oculi (1672).

Having castigated Somerset Maugham yesterday for a novel that even he professed to dislike, thanks can be offered for the passage in The Magician which draws attention to a painter I hadn’t come across before. With a scythe-wielding skeleton snuffing a candle flame, and a bishop rotting in his casket, these are a very Spanish take on the vanitas genre. Some of the subsequent works of Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel are less surprising when you see art that’s this grotesque.


Finis gloria mundi (1672).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Alfred Rethel’s Totentanz
The art of Jacopo Ligozzi, 1547–1627
Massachusetts memento mori
Skull cameras
Walmor Corrêa’s Memento Mori
The skull beneath the skin
Vanitas paintings
Very Hungry God
History of the skull as symbol

6 thoughts on “The art of Juan de Valdés Leal, 1622–1690”

  1. Caravaggio almost always wins any comparison, especially when the chiaroscuro is as striking as it is in that first example.

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