Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
I recently discovered that the Zurbarán above lives just 20 minutes away from number 42. It’s at the former Episcopal Palace in Castres (now a museum.) A very nice building of strong Palladian influence which I like for no particular reason 😀
Anyway, back to the painting. It depicts Alvar, one of the brothers in the epic poem Cantar of the Seven Infants of Lara. They lived in the tenth century, and the poem tells the story of how seven brothers were betrayed by their uncle and slain by the Moors; but were later avenged by their half-brother, Bastard Mudarra, son of the Lord of Lara and a Moorish woman.
Zurbarán is just exceptional. The painting is alive. The faces on the helmet, chest plate and knee covers have an almost trompe-l’œil effect. It’s by far my favourite thing in the museum- which is actually a gem. I had no idea there was such a great little collection in this area. Apparently the best collection of Spanish art in France after the Louvre.