Bathsheba at Her Bath.
Madrid School; around 1620.
Oil on canvas.
Original antique frame.
Measurements: 147 x 111 cm; 151 x 119 cm (frame)
Rarely have we been able to find a type of work like this in Spanish painting from the early seventeenth century. An explicit female nude captures our attention. The lady plunging into a pond with the help of a maid while another carefully combs her hair. She seems to ignore her suggestive helpers and fix her gaze directly on the viewer. The scene is surrounded by an idealized garden from which a fanciful Renaissance palace emerges. At the top, a luxuriously dressed man looks out from the roof in amazement, calling out his followers. He is King David. Fascinated by the sensual beauty of the young Bathsheba, he calls him to her courtiers and already in the palace they consume his passion.
A story collected in the Old Testament seems to be the ideal pretext for a painter and patron to have allowed us to see one of the rarest examples of our painting. The erotic content that emanates from both the nudes and the attitudes, the theme of carnal passion, as well as the visual delight for an imaginary garden bordering on utopia in which fantastic architecture and animals create an atmosphere as suggestive as its characters.
This privileged vision is difficult to adjust to the hand of any specific painter. Its theme and the complexity of the composition are out of the usual rigidity of the Madrid court at the beginning of the century. The designs of the gardens seem inspired by the engravings of the famous Hans Vredeman de Vries and at the same time with the regal spaces described in the painting of the time such as the view of the Country House of Félix Castello in which it is appreciated in a grotto the fountain don el Manzanares as a river deity and reminds us of the Neptune at the center of our work. At the same time we can see similarities in composition in works by Juan de la Corte and his school. The most similar paintings in terms of scenery could be compared with those preserved in the Municipal Museum of History of Madrid.