(Valencia, ca. 1610 – 1674)
Still Life in Landscape (Pomegranates)
oil on canvas
72.5 x 109.3 cm
Inv. no. P02137
This deeply naturalistic still life—well preserved and completely unknown until 2001, when it was identified by Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez—is a very characteristic piece in the production of the Valencian still-life painter also known as Tomás Hiepes who, along with meticulous studies of kitchens and pantries, left us excellent outdoor compositions of fruits and flowers. The warm touches of red and brown of the ripe pomegranates stand out in the tenebrist lighting of this piece. The style, both in the background landscape and the treatment of the grapes and the pomegranates, would place this piece among the works he produced in the 1660s.
If we seek a second and symbolic reading of the composition, it would probably allude to the sacrifice of the Passion of Christ (the crown of thorns is represented by the blackberry bush) and his death on the Cross (the clusters of grapes and the vine, compounded by the symbolisation of the spear wound in his side found in the cuts in the melon and the pomegranates), which consolidates the foundation of a New Church that would gather all peoples under one faith (the pomegranate) to achieve eternal salvation at the end of time (the Celestial City of Jerusalem, the “heaven of earth” represented by the fortress in the far background).
Both this canvas and its companion piece, Still Life in Landscape (Watermelon), were produced as if they were a diptych, and denote similar interpretations of a religious nature which are characteristic of the time when they were painted. Both pieces depict autumn fruits.