ZURBARÁN, Francisco de
(b. 1598, Fuente de Cantos, d. 1664, Madrid)

Cup of Water and a Rose on a Silver Plate

c. 1630
Oil on canvas, 21,2 x 30,1 cm
National Gallery, London

This painting depicts a fine white ceramic cup filled with water, resting on a silver saucer, adorned with a single rose on a wooden tabletop. The flower here could refer to rose water, a perfumed drink popular in the 17th century, or have a deeper, religious significance. The motif of the cup filled with water is familiar from other works by Zurbaran: it appears in his famous still-life of 1633, Still-Life with Basket of Oranges (Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena) and in at least two of his religious paintings. In the latter paintings the cup of water and rose allude to the Virgins purity and love. The flower could also be interpreted as an emblem, referring to the Virgin as the Mystic Rose.

This canvas is a fragment of a larger work: the left-hand edge is intact, while the other three sides have been cut.