Tomás Yepes

(Valencia, ca. 1610 – 1674)

Still Life in Landscape (Watermelon)

ca. 1650-1660

oil on canvas

72.2 x 108.8 cm

Inv. no. P02138

BBVA Collection Spain

A companion to the Still Life in Landscape (Pomegranates), this is an important work in the production of the artist, also known as Tomás Hiepes, which is very well preserved and remained unknown until 2001, when it was identified by Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez.

In order to promote the Christian message of the Counter-Reformation, it became important to include elements whose symbology reinforced the meaning of the image in the composition. These were pleasing to the eyes of the layman, and for those in the know the perusal of the represented objects allowed a reading beyond the obvious.

The ensemble of all the elements included in the scene may be suggestive of the redemption of souls. The first couple, Adam and Eve, symbolised by the fruits on the left-hand side, commit the original sin by disobeying God and eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, thus condemning humanity. However, with the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, his Passion, and his death, symbolised by the thorny branches to the left and the vine to the right, the souls are redeemed. Furthermore, Jesus brought forth the foundation of a New Church, fertile and prosperous (the watermelon and the corn), in contrast to the synagogue (the fallen fig branch), which was to be the primary instrument in the pursuit of salvation when time came to an end, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

We ought to mention the presence in the composition of the mentioned ears of corn, since these were not commonly found in Spanish still lifes, as corn was not introduced as a crop into the Iberian Peninsula until late in the 16th century.

The background landscape is more relevant in this piece than in its companion, as he developed an architectural view. This type of still lifes, which were common in Neapolitan painting, became a model in 18th century Valencian painting.