National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Saint Lucy Francisco de Zurbarán (artist)
Spanish, 1598 - 1664
Saint Lucy, c. 1625/1630
oil on canvas
overall: 104.14 × 77 cm (41 × 30 5/16 in.) framed: 133.7 x 106 x 8.9 cm (52 5/8 x 41 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
1943.7.11
On View
From the Tour: Spanish Painting in the Seventeenth Century
Object 3 of 7

It is not a treat -- fruit or small cakes -- that Lucy proffers on a small serving tray, but her own eyes. According to her legend, which developed centuries after her death in 304, the young virgin had plucked them from their sockets because their beauty had tormented a young man. He was so impressed by the strength of her faith that he immediately converted to Christianity. Lucy's eyes were miraculously restored to her one day as she said her prayers, but she suffered martyrdom for her faith nonetheless. Lucy was betrayed to the pagan authorities, who ordered her to a brothel. She could not be moved, however, so they set her on fire, but she remained untouched by the flames. Finally she was pierced through the neck with a sword.

Zurbarán gives Lucy an imposing monumentality, not simply by making her figure large and close to the front plane of the picture, but also by simplifying the background behind her. Against its darkness, she stands out -- compelling our attention with the brilliant colors in her costume and flower-laden wreath and through the penetrating realism of Zurbarán's disciplined painting style.

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