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Santa Barbara

ca. 1680-1690 Unidentified Puerto Rican Artist oil on wood panel 10 7/8 x 8 1/4 in. (27.6 x 21.0 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Teodoro Vidal Collection 1996.91.9 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 21B


Luce Center Label

Puerto Ricans depicted religious subjects for homes and churches, although painted images were less common than carved wooden saints. This small panel was probably created as one of several for the front of a pulpit or altarpiece in a church or a private chapel. Saint Barbara is especially revered in Puerto Rico, because she is believed to protect against hurricanes, which are an annual threat to the island. She is represented here with her symbols: a crown, a palm of martyrs, and the tower with three windows where she was incarcerated before being beheaded at her father’s order.

Research Notes

Read research notes for Santa Barbara. (pdf)

Keywords

Architecture Exterior - civic - tower

Object - foliage - palm

Religion - martyr

Religion - saint - St. Barbara

painting

paint - oil

wood

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