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Saint Serapion

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1628, 120.5×103.5 cm • Oil, Canvas

Description of the artwork «Saint Serapion»

"Saint Serapion"a wonderful painting by Francisco de Zurbaran, is made in the manner tenebrosorecently experienced restoration"at his residence" in the Museum "Wadsworth Athenaeum" in Hartford, the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. In 2015, the year Serapion returned to their distant homeland – to Europe. However, not permanently, but only at the time of the exhibitions where art lovers are given the opportunity to see firsthand early Zurbaran, once exported to another part of the world.

So exciting meeting with "American" Zurbaran - the original or a reproduction to be meaningful, we only recall what was Saint Serapion, and will shortly tell about the circumstances of the creation of the painting.

In August 1628 the thirty years Francisco de Zurbaran received a large order from a Seville monastery mercedarios. The monks want he completed 22 paintings illustrating the life of the founder of their order – St. Pedro Nolasco ("The vision of St. Pedro Nolasco the heavenly Jerusalem", "The vision of St. Pedro Nolasco the crucifixion of the Apostle Peter"and others). The story itself mercenaries – order, to save fellow Muslims from Moorish captivity – so fascinated the artist that he is working on other stories not related Nolasco. One of these episodes is the story of the monk Serapion mercenaria.

Order mercedarian founded in the XIII century. Its name comes from the Spanish word merced means "mercy" (the same root is a Spanish female name, Mercedes, later gave the name to the car). What was the misunderstanding? In addition to the basic vows of obedience, poverty and celibacy, the monks mercedario swore to dedicate his life to freeing Christians captured by Muslim Berbers. It is important to remember how long and often bloody in the history of the Iberian Peninsula coexisted European and Arab culture.

Serapion became a monk shortly after the establishment of the order. Repeatedly he drove in a dangerous expedition to North Africa to ransom coreligionists from Saracen slavery. In 1240, the ship on which sailed the Serapion, was captured by the pirates. They are long and subtly tortured "infidels", but Serapion, according to legend, remained undaunted, and did not renounce Christ and was martyred.

Zurbaran emerges as a gifted storyteller who knows what to emphasize and what to leave out. Narrating the picturesque language of Serapion, he writes of torture. Torturers-the Moors also remain "behind the scenes". We see only the final narrative: the recently deceased is bound for the hands of the Saint (that Serapion already dead, you can understand his unnatural position).

All the scenic beauty of the fabric is concentrated in the almost monochrome and brilliantly designed fabric. Monks in long, heavy robes, in a sense, was the "specialization" of Zurbaran, and Serapion in this respect, perhaps, surpassed, and St. Thomasand Francisand The Bonaventure. Material density and weight of the robes worn by Serapion, as well as various shades of white, need to convey and deepen the folds and creases of the fabric, and the patches of light on the canvas – all this is the continued admiration for the skill "Spanish Caravaggio" (as it is sometimes called Zurbaran for his addiction to black and white contrasts).

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork
Subject and objects: Religious scene
Style of art and technique: Baroque, Oil

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