St. Pascal Baylon / San Pascual Baylón

2015.001.jpg

Title

St. Pascal Baylon / San Pascual Baylón

Object Type

Painting

Creator

Anonymous

Origin

Mexico, 18th century

Medium

Oil on copper

Dimensions

H 18 7/16in x W 14 3/8in

Identifier

2015.001

Acquisition Method

Museum purchase made possible through the generosity of Joel Goldfrank, Balbino and Flora Fernández, Nancy Meem Wirth, Senator Peter Wirth, The Thoma Foundation, Karen Billings, Cynthia Savage, Sarana Savage, Ambassador Edward Romero, Nancy Dimit, Roger Hyndman, Elizabeth Romero, Charmay Allred, Josef Diaz and Malcolm Purdy, Sam Perry, Eric Briones, Rachel Belash, Brenda and Brian Kilcup, Ofelia Muenzer, and Bill Siegal.

Provenance

Valery Taylor, Denver; East coast private collection

Physical Description

Conservation by Steven Prins; cleaning and minor in-painting.

Comments

Known as “the kitchen saint,” San Pascual’s image graces numerous kitchens throughout the world. San Pascual (1540-1592) was born in Torrehermosa, Zaragoza, Spain. His birthday was May 24—the Feast of the Pentecost (seven weeks after Easter), known in Spanish as La Pascua del Espíritu Santo. Hence his name, Pascual. Born into a shepherding family, Pascual joined the Franciscan Order as a lay brother at the age of 24. There he was known for his hard work, piety, austerity, his kindness towards the poor and hungry, and his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. His main duties were to prepare meals and keep the kitchen clean. He found that he could be deep in prayer and still prepare food. One legend says that Pascual summoned angels to help him with his chores, so that he could pause to pray. He is usually depicted kneeling in adoration before the Eucharist. Pascual was canonized in 1690.

This stunning painting depicts San Pascual kneeling in the kitchen before the Host which appears surrounded by clouds above pots boiling on the kitchen stove. In the left foreground are kitchen utensils and onions. The saint is wearing the traditional brown habit of the Franciscan Order—-his knotted cord trails on the floor. Behind him, to the right, is an opening to the outdoors where one can see the walled kitchen garden that was commonplace in most colonial conventos. In it is growing what appear to be cabbage.

The painting is an excellent example of 18th century Mexican Baroque painting techniques and style. The figure, beautifully proportioned, is realistically rendered with light and shadow in smooth, even brushstrokes. Facial features are lightly sketched in. The Saint’s habit displays masterful handling of the medium in the detailed rendering of the warp and weft of the fabric—-a technique common to and perfected in 18th century Mexico.
Paintings on copper were common in the colonial period, and often depicted landscapes or religious images. Copper was a durable ground and traveled well, thus many such paintings found their way to remote areas of the colonies. However, it was also a relatively expensive material, compared to canvas, and thus usually displayed the skill of very accomplished painters. Although by an anonymous artist, the quality of painting in this piece suggests a person of some skill and training.

Although there are no known New Mexican colonial images of the saint, San Pascual is frequently depicted by today’s Spanish Market artists. Today he is typically shown in a kitchen, surrounded by kitchen utensils and chiles.

Contributor

RFG

Collection

Citation

Anonymous, “St. Pascal Baylon / San Pascual Baylón,” Museum of Spanish Colonial Art Collections, accessed October 18, 2017, http://collections.spanishcolonial.org/items/show/2862.