St Francis' Stigmata by Gentile da Fabriano


Fondazione Magnani-Rocca

Stimmate di San Francesco (1415) by Gentile da FabrianoFondazione Magnani-Rocca

The artist

Probably already active since the end of the XIV century, he was certainly one of the greatest masters of International Gothic, receiving prestigious commissions from the most important Italian courts and frequenting the greatest artists of his time.

From 1414 to 1419, period to which this San Francesco (1415) probably belongs, Gentile da Fabriano was in Brescia: it was a stage of explorations and fruitful contacts between Veneto and Lombardy, which contributed to the achievement of the artistic mindfulness manifested in the renowned Adorazione dei magi at the Uffizi museum. 

The scene

Executed for the San Francesco convent in Fabriano, the artwork was purchased by Magnani in 1978.
Originally, it was coupled not as a diptych, but double-sided with the Incoronazione della Vergine, today at the J.P. Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

the holm-oaks with the acorns, the myosotis and the clovers can be clearly appreciated by the viewer.

The space is certainly still organized in a medieval fashion and also the golden background is typical of the same artistic taste, while the vegetation is rendered with great naturalism: 

The sharpness of the shadow projected on the grass by the Saint and generated by the light emanating from the Christ-seraph is really astonishing.

Gentile’s analytical naturalism comes forward in the Annunciation meticulously rendered through the XII century fresco with Annunciation shown on the facade of the little chapel at the top right (probably symbolizing the “Santuario della Verna”). 

 It is the first luminist effect of this kind in our history of art and it establishes a step forward with respect to the Giotto’s modules, still fundamental for the artist’s education. 

The pictorial technique

In his painting, he had an hand similar to his name” (“gentile” means “kind” in italian), commented Michelangelo analysing the Gentile’s fresco executed for the Adimari’s tomb at Santa Maria Nova , in Rome.

Educated on the pictorial, miniaturist and decorative style typical of late gothic, the artistic Humanesim, which he got in contact with in Florence, initiated a transition in him towards the Renaissance essentiality.

This San Francesco demonstrates a meticulous luminist research, which can be found in the habit’s folds  and in the surrounding vegetation dotted in gold. 

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