San Benito (1640-1645)

Zurbarán, Francisco de (1598-1664)

San Benito (Saint Benedict)
Oil on canvas, 188 x 103.5 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This painting formed part of a series by Zurbarán representing the thirteen founders of monastic orders, known today from copies in the Capuchin convent at Castellón de la Plana. During the 1630s, his workshop produced at least two other copies to serve evangelizing missions in the Americas: one series went to Lima and another to Mexico City. Saint Benedict is depicted holding a wine jar—notably a contemporary Spanish example made in the neighborhood of Triana in Seville—in reference to a legend that a jar of poisoned wine was fractured when blessed by the saint, thus saving him. Benedict reappears praying in the rocky landscape background. (MET)