Skip to main content
Saint Francis in Meditation
Francisco de Zurbarán
/

Saint Francis is shown meditating in a landscape, holding a skull in his hand. His hood is pulled back and the light catches one side of his face, marking out his strong nose and pronounced cheekbone, while the other side remains in deep shadow. He wears the fraying and patched robe of the Franciscans, the religious order he founded in the thirteenth century; all members took a vow of poverty.

The skull symbolises death and refers to the suffering of the crucified Christ – the focus of the saint’s meditation. But this is not a scene of quiet contemplation: Francis’s upward gaze, slightly open mouth and upturned palm suggest he is talking with God. His hands are marked with the stigmata, the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. In the landscape background you can just make out a simple hut, suggesting that the saint is not in complete isolation.

Key facts
Artist Francisco de Zurbarán
Artist dates 1598 - 1664
Full title Saint Francis in Meditation
Date made 1639
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 162 x 137 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Major Charles Edmund Wedgwood Wood, 1946
Inventory number NG5655
Location in Gallery Not on display
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo