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As a youth, Botero’s exposure to art was isolated to the “colonial painting and polychrome sculpture” found inside the Colonial churches of his native Medellín. Eventually, he found himself in Madrid and later in Paris and Florence as a young art student studying and absorbing the paintings of the great Masters—Goya, Velázquez, Rubens, and Giotto, Pierro della Francesca amongst others. These formative years as a young boy and later as a student play a definitive role in shaping the artist’s aesthetic and visual language (light, color, volume, compositional arrangement) in addition to influencing the subject matter he chooses to depict—which remained unwaveringly rooted in the Western tradition—and ultimately transforms into his own distorted sense of realism.
Amongst the vast catalogue of themes visited and revisited by Botero, representations of women and parochial figures surface as primary subjects of interest and exploration. They are also those of the greatest dichotomy. The counterpoint to his often aloof and bewildered male characters is the celebratory presence of the dignified, society lady (see Lot 50, Mrs. Rubens #3, as an example) or the self-possessed Grande Madam and her elegant harem. Unlike the men, the women in Botero’s world are in the constant position of power and control. Simultaneously, his fascination with religion appears with his various depictions of saints, nuns, clerics, and bishops. Raised within the aura of Catholicism, the artist himself has said that “religion in Latin America—like everywhere—is part of the visual scene; it is therefore an important subject for me.”  Botero’s twist to these figures, which are traditionally looked to as compasses of moral reason, are instead finding themselves as awestruck, even lost, within their religious roles. 
Santa Isabel de Hungría is the perfect synthesis of these regularly visited themes while also standing as a figure of total irony: instead of dumbfounded she is confident; instead of regretful of her vow of mercy, she is unconquered and determined; instead of leading a rapacious life, she chooses one of humility. She could be considered as the ultimate Botero woman. The daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary, St. Elizabeth, as she is also known, was betrothed at the age of four to the soon to be King Ludwig of Thuringia (in modern day Germany). Raised alongside her husband in the Thuringian court, she was thrust into the sumptuous lifestyle of the nobility. This, however, contradicted sharply against her diligent religious practice. Virtuous to the point of exile and abandonment by her own court, St. Elizabeth’s dedication to leading a life of strict piety endured. Botero depicts her in the traditional format she is often portrayed, holding a bouquet of flowers, a nod to “the miracle of the roses. Santa Isabel de Hungría also follows the historic artistic practice of devotional and secular portraiture (See Figure 1). Placed against a sobering and simple background, Botero executes her with a tranquil agility. We find her posing in front of us with reverence and affection.
 Cynthis Jaffee McCabe, Fernando Botero, (exhibition catalogue), Washington, D.C., 1979,, p. 11
 Paola Gribaudo, Carlos Fuentes, Botero: Women, New York, p. 14
 Edward J. Sullivan, Botero, Drawings and Watercolors, New York, 1993, p.xviii
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