LOARTE, Alejandro de
(b. ca. 1597, d. 1626, Toledo)

Biography

Spanish painter. The son of a painter, he was married in Madrid in 1619 but later lived and worked in Toledo, where he enjoyed a wide-ranging but short-lived career. His few extant religious paintings are mediocre, although his large, multi-figured Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes (1622; private collection) is ambitious and accomplished. His best works are still-lifes, all dating from the last four years of his life. These compositions portray objects suspended and arranged within a window-frame or on a shelf and broadly follow the format of works by Juan Sánchez Cotán and Juan van der Hamen y León, but they lack the same spatial clarity or refined sense of interval.

In Loarte's Still-life with Fruit and Game (1623; private collection) the restrained palette and awkward drawing of the central basket are consistent with his diffident handling of pictorial space, and the composition reveals his predilection for symmetry. The foodstuffs, however, are realistically painted, with a fresh, sensuous touch, and the control of light and dark is skilful. His last painting, the Poultry Vendor (1626; private collection), depicts a Toledan market scene, in which the discrepancy between the dryly modelled and stilted figures and the richly painted fowl betrays his artistic immaturity.



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