Paulino Vicente Martyrdom of Father Melchor García Sampedro

Inventory no.
158x118 cm

Scene of the martyrdom of the saint who is the central element in the composition. He appears kneeling in the foreground, dressed in a spotless white habit and bound in heavy chains while he looks imploringly heavenwards. His figure is scaled to give him greater importance as the focus of the work, which makes the rest of the scene appear somewhat unreal. In fact, visually, the work is clearly and intentionally divided into foreground and background.

The composition shows a pedagogical intention, with the afflicted figures that appear behind the saint also suffering martyrdom in contorted expressions of pain, which contrast with the serenity that Paulino Vicente portrays in the face of San Melchor. The divine component is inserted in the upper right section by means of the presence of two totally classical angels who symbolize hope in the life after martyrdom.

The colour, light in the foreground, gradually darkens as it recedes into the background until reaching a grey, turbulent sky.

In the upper left section, a bishop's coat of arms crested with the green hat is inserted with the Latin inscription "ora pro nobis". Surrounding the coat of arms, the artist places a scroll with the saint's date of birth (28-4-1821), date of death (28-7-1858) and the date when the work was completed (29-4-1951). This portrait is mentioned in the minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Oviedo on 16 February 1951.

Melchor García Sampedro is also known as san Melchor de Quirós. He studied at the University of Oviedo and then joined the Dominicans. He was assigned to the Eastern missions, what is now Vietnam, and was named bishop in 1855. A few years later Emperor Tu Duc ordered the persecution of Christians, which would mark the martyrdom and death of Melchior García Sampedro at the age of thirty-seven.

Paulino Vicente was an artist closely linked to the University of Oviedo. He was commissioned for several works by the rectorship, including some portraits for the gallery of rectors, as well as actively participating in the process of furnishing the University carried out in the 1940s with the design of some objects. He also served on the selection committee for artists seeking to exhibit works in the university building and the rectorate.

Bibliographical references
  • QUIJADA ESPINA A., R. RODRÍGUEZ ÁLVAREZ y S. VÁZQUEZ-CANÓNICO COSTALES (2004) Bienes Culturales de la Universidad de Oviedo. Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo.
Documentary sources
  • Minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Oviedo. Session: 16 February 1951.
  • Historical Archives of the University of Oviedo. File B
Location on the mapUbicación de la obra en las instalaciones de la Universidad



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