Francisco Herrera the Younger

Francisco Herrera the Younger

Francisco Herrera the Younger ("el Mozo") (born in Seville, 1622; died in Madrid, 1655) was a Spanish painter and architect.


He was the second son of Francisco Herrera the Elder ("el Viejo"), and began his career under his father's instruction; but the father's violent temper at last became so intolerable that the youth fled to Rome. For six years the younger Herrera devoted himself to the study of architecture, perspective, and the antique, his aim being fresco painting.

But it was still life in which he excelled. He already painted "bodegones", fish so cleverly done that the Romans called him: "il Spagnuolo degli pesci". In 1656 he returned to Seville, founded the Seville Academy, and in 1660 became its sub-director under Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

He is said to have been vain, suspicious, hot-tempered, and jealous; at any rate he resented his subordinate post and went to Madrid about 1661 (Cean Bermúdez). Before leaving his native city he painted two large pictures for the cathedral and a "St. Francis" for the chapel of this saint. Edmund Walker Head declares the latter to be his masterpiece.

In Madrid he painted a great "Triumph of St. Hermengild" for the church of the Carmelite friars, and so beautiful a group of frescoes in San Felipe el Real that Philip IV of Spain commanded him to paint the dome of the chapel of Our Lady of Atocha, and thereafter made him painter to the king and superintendent of royal buildings. Besides his work in still life he painted many portraits, and while these lacked the vigour which characterized his father's work, they exhibit a greater knowledge and use of "chiaroscuro".

Charles II of Spain kept him at his Court and made him master of the royal works. For this king Herrera renovated the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, in Saragossa. The Madrid gallery contains his "St. Hermengild".

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