This heroic-size St. Francis, carved by the sculptress "Maria" from the hard, dark Jacaranda wood she likes to use, is the first South American sculpture ever bought for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's permanent collection. The subject, St. Francis of Assist, is almost as closely related to Latin America as the wood from which it was wrought. The religious order of Franciscans, founded by this simplest and most lovable of saints, was identified with the Spanish conquest of America from the second voyage of Columbus.

At "Maria's" recent Manhattan exhibition, critics found her...

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