Francisco de Zurbarán
St. Margaret

Circa 1631
Oil on canvas
National Gallery, London

Zurbarán portrays St. Margaret as Olibrius would have seen her, a devastatingly beautiful shepherdess, albeit in a quite Spanish mode with intense dark eyes and dark hair cut like Queen Isabella's. The legends say she was of noble birth, so he combines the emblems of a peasant girl (the crook, the sandals, the moorish bag) with marks of higher status (the ruffled cuffs, the prayer book, the necklace). The confident lift of her eyebrow is echoed in the tilt of the hat, which though of mere straw is exquisitely woven.

The dragon glares behind her but is no more than an attribute, untouched by the light that falls across her figure.

Queen Isabella in 1632:


More of St. Margaret

Source: Web Gallery of Art