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Saint Francis in Prayer, c. 1638-1639

Francisco de Zurbarán
Spanish, 1598-1664
Oil on canvas
46-1/4 x 35-1/2 in. (117.5 x 90.2 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on View

St. Francis of Assisi, a mystic and poet, was also the founder of the Franciscans, an important mendicant order. Zurbarán portrayed the saint in his later years, which Francis devoted to meditating on the suffering of the crucified Christ. The artist's tight focus on the figure is in keeping with Counter-Reformation aesthetics as defined by St. Ignatius of Loyola, who prescribed directness and realism in the representation of religious subjects. Though the figure is modeled with strong chiaroscuro, the variations of ocher tones and distant landscape mellow the intensity of the saint's concentration.

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