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Kress Collection

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Studio of Parmigianino

(c. 1503 - 1540)

Saint Barbara, c. 1522
Tempera on panel
16 3/4 in. x 12 3/4 in. (42.55 cm. x 32.39 cm.)

Creation Place: Europe, Italian
Technique: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961
Accession Number: P61.1.11

This portrait of Saint Barbara shows her in profile, wearing a dark green gown with red trim. The muted grey-green of the background makes it difficult to distinguish Barbara's long brown hair, which flows over her right shoulder. According to her legend, Barbara was the daughter of a pagan nobleman who locked her in a tower to discourage suitors. She converted to Christianity and, in her father's absence, had workmen add a third window to her tower to honor the Holy Trinity. Her father was engaged when he returned and took her to the authorities. Just as she was martyred by her own father, he was struck dead by lightning. This sudden death associated with her own made Barbara the parton saint of miners and gunners. Barbara was very popular in the Middle Ages, but there is now some question about whether she really existed. Many of the accounts of her life are unhistorical, and no less than four cities claim to be the place of her death. In 1969, her feast day, December 4, was suppressed in the Roman calendar.

Egg tempera

Kress Collection (D1754), 1950
Gift of the Kress Foundation, 1961

Longhi considers this an original replica of Parmigianino's 'Saint Barbara' in the Prado, Madrid. Dates the Prado version c. 1522.

Related Objects
A box of Xrays of the Kress Collection is on Shelf G in the Vault (6/5/2018).

Sarah Allen and Julia Patzelt, Beyond Appearance: Constructing Likeness (Claremont: Pomona College Museum of Art, 2003), 20 (illustrated/ color).

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