Francisco Zurburan (1598-1664), ‘Saint Francis Standing in Ecstasy’, c. 1640, oil on canvas; Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona.
A few years ago another blogger started (but never continued) a series of posts on Religious Art. As someone with an uninformed, amateur interest in Art I thought that it might be interesting to give it another go. The first painting I have selected, though feel free to make suggestions for future posts, is a painting by Zurbaran entitled ‘Saint Francis Standing in Ecstasy’.
I saw this recently at an exhibition in London called ‘The Sacred made Real’ which I have previously discussed elsewhere. This painting was the stand-out item for me. At nearly two metres tall Saint Francis dominates the room with eyes that drive your focus upward, and yet the bodily stasis (Saint Francis is dead here) exhibited by Zurburan grounds the observer back in mortality.
Further, as someone who assumes ecstasy to be mobile, the rigidity of this body is unsettling.
It is this conflicted dynamic that interests me; this push toward God counter-acted against a pull toward death and sin. This ecstatic outward movement contained by a body unable to express it. This painting feels like prayer