Saint Margaret of Antioch - Francisco de Zurbaran. 163x105
Most of Zurbaran’s works with images of the holy virgins were ordered by the artist in the form of series and were mostly performed by his assistants. In 1647 he received an order for 24 such paintings for the monastery in Lima, two years later - for 15 for Buenos Aires. However, the work with St. Margaret of Antioch was written earlier and, undoubtedly, is the creation of the master himself.
Margarita of Antioch is the legendary Christian virgin martyr. Her life tells us that the prefect of Antioch wished to marry her, but she refused, saying that she is the bride of Christ. The virgin was brutally tortured and imprisoned in an underground dungeon. Satan appeared there in the form of a dragon and devoured her. But the cross that she held in her hands made the monster open, and Margarita went outside. She was beheaded after a prayer that pregnant women who called to her could safely give birth to their children, just as she herself appeared unscathed from the womb of the dragon.
Margarita was once a revered Christian saint, as she was considered the patroness of women in labor. However, due to the lack of evidence of the authenticity of history in 1969, it was excluded from the church calendar. Zurbaran created a worldly image that contrasted sharply with the whole system of Spanish religious painting of the 17th century. This 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 intricate ornaments. The fact that the canvas is a saint can only be guessed from the traditional attributes - the dragon and the book in her hand - of course, the Bible.