Pedro Orrente: Hardly Velázquez, But Can’t We Love Him for a Single Moment of Brilliance?

THE DAILY PIC: At the Walters Art Museum, one great detail from an Orrente painting made him out to be Velázquez's ancestor.

THE DAILY PIC (#1725): Are we allowed to admire an artist for one tiny detail in a much larger work, in a much larger career? If we are, please give it up for the Spanish painter Pedro Orrente, whose Ecce Homo, from about 1610, is at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, and which is so obscure that I couldn’t find a decent color image of the whole composition. (A black-and-white one closes out this column.)

The picture as a whole is pretty much standard Venetian fare, which isn’t surprising given that Orrente had paid the Lagoon a visit around the time he made his Ecce Homo. But this detail of two women chatting seems to have a level of sympathetic observation that even the Venetians didn’t always manage. The same front-of-staircase spot I’ve zoomed-in on in Orrente’s scene was usually reserved by Venetians for some kind of “genre” detail, but Orrente’s double portrait of a nursing woman and her friend is especially wonderful. Orrente went on to be a pretty notable figure in his native Spain, so I have to wonder if the great Diego Velázquez might have seen a detail like this, and taken off from it in his own portrait work. (Detail photo by Lucy Hogg)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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