October Painting of the Month:
Francisco de Zurbarán, 1598 - 1664 Saint Francis in Meditation, circa 1635, oil on canvas, 93.3 x 68.6 cm (37 x 27 in.) Zurbarán is recognized as one of the greatest Spanish painters of the 17th century. He first established himself by painting multi-work commissions of saints and religious scenes for various monasteries. His best-known paintings are of isolated figures - humble monks and saints dramatically lit against simple dark backgrounds. The Timken painting depicts Saint Francis of Assisi, a 13th century friar and preacher who founded the Franciscan Order. He was the son of a rich merchant of Assisi. When he was in his early twenties, he renounced his wealth after a religious epiphany and chose a life of poverty and chastity. Saint Francis attracted many followers and when he died at the age of 45, he left behind some 5,000 Franciscan monks. Zurbarán painted about 34 paintings of Saint Francis. These paintings show Saint Francis dramatically lit in various states of religious devotion. Here, the saint is depicted wearing the simple brown habit and pointed hood worn by the Franciscan monks. He gazes down at a skull that he cradles in his hands. He seems to be fully absorbed or transfixed in an interior vision.