Saint Francis in Prayer
c. 1638-1639
Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish, 1598-1664)
On View

St. Francis of Assisi, a mystic and poet, was also the founder of the Franciscans, an important mendicant order. Zurbarán portrayed the saint in his later years, which Francis devoted to meditating on the suffering of the crucified Christ. The artist's tight focus on the figure is in keeping with Counter-Reformation aesthetics as defined by St. Ignatius of Loyola, who prescribed directness and realism in the representation of religious subjects. Though the figure is modeled with strong chiaroscuro, the variations of ocher tones and distant landscape mellow the intensity of the saint's concentration.


  • Artist Name: Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish, 1598-1664)
  • Title: Saint Francis in Prayer
  • Date: c. 1638-1639
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 46-1/4 x 35-1/2 in. (117.5 x 90.2 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1975.03.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Probably King Louis Philippe, the Spanish Gallery (sale, London, Christie’s, 6-21 May 1853, lot 52, to);
E. Clarence Shepard, by 1864.
Jameson, by descent to;
Anonymous [Mrs. S. D. Young-Jamieson] sale, (Sotheby’s, London, 3 November 1971, lot 19, for £1050 to);
[B. Cohen of Trafalgar Galleries, London, on behalf of ARTEX, International, S.A.S., London, sold 1975 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

[on loan]

  • London, British Institution, 1864 to
  • Frati, T.; and M. Gregori, L'opera completa di Zurbaran, no. 346 p. 111
  • Young, Eric, The Burlington Magazine, fig. 1 p. 247
  • Young, Eric, The Connoisseur, fig. 7 pp. 183-184
  • Gállego, Julián and José Gudiol, Zurbaran 1598-1664: Biography and Critical Analysis, 1977, no. 472, fig. 424
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 48
  • David Hockney, Secret Knowledge: Retracing Six Centuries of Western Art, 2001, p. 178, 179 (detail)
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1134 p. 375
  • Various authors, edited by Mark Rogián, Spanish Art in America, 2016, p. 192 ; p. 190 (ill.)
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Portrait of Fray Diego Deza Francisco de Zurbarán c. 1630
Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose Francisco de Zurbarán 1633
The Birth of the Virgin Francisco de Zurbarán c. 1627

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