- Author: Francisco de Zurbaran
- Museum: National Gallery (London)
- Year: 1630-1634 ⇐ Click image for larger version
Description of the picture:
Saint Margaret of Antioch - Francisco de Zurbaran. 1630-1634. Canvas, oil. 163x105
Most of the works of Zurbaran with the images of the holy virgins were commissioned by the artist in the form of series and mostly performed by his assistants. In 1647 he received an order for 24 such paintings for the monastery in Lima, another two years later - for 15 for Buenos Aires. However, the work with Saint Margarita of Antioch was written earlier and, undoubtedly, is the creation of the master himself.
Margaret of Antioch - the legendary Christian virgin martyr. Her life narrates that the prefect of Antioch wished to marry her, but she refused, saying that she was the bride of Christ. The maiden was subjected to cruel torture and imprisoned in an underground dungeon. Satan appeared in the form of a dragon and devoured it. But the cross, which she held in her hands, made the monster open up, and Margarita went outside. She was beheaded after praying that pregnant women who had appealed to her could safely give birth to their children, just as she herself appeared unscathed from the womb of the dragon.
Margaret was once a revered Christian saint, because she was considered the patroness of women in labor. However, due to the lack of evidence of the authenticity of the story in 1969, it was excluded from the church calendar. Zurbaran created a worldly image that contrasted sharply with the whole structure of Spanish religious painting of the 17th century. It is practically a portrait of a peasant woman: she is depicted with a shepherd's staff, in a straw hat, with a homespun bag with an intricate ornament. The fact that the canvas is holy can be guessed only by the traditional attributes — the dragon and the book in her hand — certainly the Bible.
Other paintings by Francisco de Zurbaran
Christ on the cross
Still life with lemons, oranges and a rose
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