© José Gutiérrez Solana. VEGAP, Madrid, 2022


La baraja de la muerte
The Deck of Death
José Gutiérrez Solana
Oil on canvas
Printed area size: 57 × 78 cm
Measures with a framework: 64 × 84 cm
ca. 1926-1927
Signed in the lower left corner
Born: Madrid, 1886
Died: Madrid, 1945

© José Gutiérrez Solana. VEGAP, Madrid, 2022


Between 1926 and 1927 the work of José Gutiérrez Solana garnered widespread international recognition by virtue of his participation in the Iberian Artists Salon and because his still lifes were, among other reasons, associated with the new realisms, known throughout Europe as the “return to order”.

In the painting La baraja de la muerte [The Deck of Death], also known as Bodegón del juicio final [Still Life of the Final Judgment] death takes on the form of a still life for the first time. A series of objects—more or less linked to a traditional vanitas painting—are laid out on a rough wooden table: a mirror, some cards, a pistol, a suit of armor, and a skull. In terms of the cards, one can identify the wheel of fortune, death, the emperor, and justice from a tarot card deck, pointing to the inexorability of time and the vanity of pleasure, beauty, and glory.

Solana forced the point of view when painting the deck and did not hesitate to include a number (III) on one of the card’s sides to ensure the spectator had a complete reading. Located behind the card with the figure of death, the horn is a reference to the arrival of the final judgment. The wineskin represents tradition and occupies a space that would usually be filled with delicacies and fruits in traditional vanitas paintings.


© José Gutiérrez Solana. VEGAP, Madrid, 2022

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