Santa Barbara (1522)

Parmigianino (1503-1540)

Santa Barbara (Saint Barbara)
Oil on panel, 48 x 39 cm
Museo del PradoMadrid

A portrait of Saint Barbara in profile on a black background. In her hands, she holds a tower, which was her symbol. A third-century Christian martyr, Saint Barbara was shut up in a tower and later decapitated by her father, Dioscoro, as punishment for neither marrying nor professing paganism. She is generally depicted with a sword and the palm leaf of martyrdom, as well as her tower. Here, however, the artist portrays her almost without symbols, and dressed in sixteenth-century style. This painting is an example of the influence Correggio‘s classical painting had on Parmigianino beginning in 1520, when the former arrived in Parma. It is an early work, and various errors in the drawing of anatomical details are visible. This work was listed as being in the Muselli Collection of Verona in 1662, and at the Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso in 1746. (MNP)