The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of March 1, 2024

Saint Peter of Alcántara

Saint Peter of Alcántara

c. 1663–1670
(Spanish, 1628–1688)
Overall: 72.2 x 32 x 32 cm (28 7/16 x 12 5/8 x 12 5/8 in.)

Did You Know?

Peter of Alcantara was so dedicated to his work he slept only 90 minutes a night--he's the patron saint of night watchmen!


Painted wood sculpture from Spain in the 1600s involved a team of artisans working under a lead sculptor. The sculptor first carved numerous pieces of wood in complex forms. So the paint would stick properly, these fragments were delicately covered in gesso (a combination of white chalk and glue made from animal collagen), preserving the subtle woodcarving underneath. The rough surface of the saint's face—reflecting his age and hardships—came from texturing the gesso with a brush. The glass eyes, probably imported from Venice, were inserted from behind the face before the wood pieces were attached. Finally, the eyelashes were added for a further touch of realism. A painter created the appearance of coarse sackcloth in a distinctive style, with yellow strokes rising off the surface. Smoother brushstrokes form the flesh tones, even revealing the saint's five-o'clock shadow. Unlike other kinds of painting, sculpture from southern Spain at this time was usually not covered in varnish; sculptors prized the unvarnished paint for its realistic effect, although it makes the surface exceptionally delicate and susceptible to dust and dirt, which more easily sticks to the surface.
  • 1800s
    By repute Alameda de Osuña Palace, Spain
    Bauer Collection, Spain
    Ignacio Zuloaga (1870-1945), Madrid, Spain, sold or gifted to a Private Collector
    Spanish Private Collector, through inheritance passed down generations, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, David Franklin, and C. Griffith Mann. Treasures from the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 206-7
    Cleveland Museum of Art. The CMA Companion: A Guide to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2014. Mentioned and reproduced: P. 190
    Cleveland Museum of Art. Museum Masters: 2016-17 Companion Guide. [Cleveland, Ohio]: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2016. Mentioned and reproduced: P. 19
    Bray, Xavier, José Luis Romero Torres and Michel Polfer. Pedro De Mena: The Spanish Bernini. Lichtervelde: Kannibaal bvba/ Hannibal, 2019. Mentioned & reproduced: p. 10, fig. 1; p. 224, fig.145
  • {{cite web|title=Saint Peter of Alcántara|url=false|author=Pedro de Mena, Workshop|year=c. 1663–1670|access-date=01 March 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

Source URL: