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"Apostle St Andrew", Oil by Francisco Zurbaran (1598-1664, Spain)
Zurbarán's picture of St Andrew is in marked contrast to Ribera's dramatic representation of the crucifixion of the saint. There is the same close observation of detail, but Zurbarán's picture has the calm majesty seen in the work of El Greco. These various qualities Zurbarán blends into a unity with an individual touch of his own. Just as the figure in El Greco's picture is suffused with blue-green shades, so here the figure of the wise old man is suffused with warm greenish browns. St Andrew is seen leaning against two beams or branches which serve, in a quite uncontrived way, to identify the saint, being in the form of the cross of St Andrew, his attribute. It is obvious at a glance that this picture dates from Zurbarán's finest period: the lined face of the saint, the peasant hands roughened by hard work and the austere folds of the robes, together create an impression of the serenity and permanence so characteristic of Zurbarán's still-lifes as well as his large compositions. In all probability the painting once adorned an altar in the Carmelite church of St Adalbert of Seville, together with its companion piece, the painting of the Archangel Gabriel, which is now in the Montpellier Museum.