Attributed to Antonio Puga

Spanish, Orense 1602-1648 Madrid

“Inside a jail cell”
Unsigned, 17th century Spanish frame
Oil on canvas
16 H by 20 3 /4 L inches
A meeting of thieves, rogues and, surely, more than one victim of the Inquisition, takes place in a cell practically converted into a tavern. Playing cards on the floor, relaxed talks, tobacco and wine present, despite the prisoners being under the effigy of the Virgin with the Child, an ironic memory of the sins of those to be redeemed. Chained to the ground, dressed in rags and sitting on dirty straw, the only distraction consists of an incomplete deck, in a half-empty jug that passes from hand to hand.
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Description

Disciple of Eugenio Cajés, together with his master he participated in 1635, in the execution of two battle paintings for the Hall of Kingdoms of the Buen Retiro Palace. He specialized in portraits, fruit bowls, landscapes and popular scenes, genres in which he was highly esteemed, as evidenced by the praise given to his works by the ambassador of the Duke of Modena in 1641. He also painted architectural backgrounds for authors such as Juan de la Corte. However, his work is poorly known, which is why genre works by other authors have been attributed to him. According to Ceán Bermúdez, who mentions a signed series on “domestic and trivial” themes, he had a naturalistic style very close to that of Velázquez in his Sevillian period and that of Murillo, the highest representative of this naturalistic painting focused on protagonists taken from the street. It is also known that Puga was a man of a certain culture, judging by the content of his library, which contained works of philosophy, poetry and theology, as well as painting, architecture and perspective, and he also collected prints and paintings of his contemporaries and former teachers.

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