The painting, oil on canvas measuring 114 x 84 cm without frame and 138 x 110 with a marvelous contemporary frame by the painter Giovanni Laurentini known as Arrigoni, well preserved, portrays the saint from Assisi (born in 1182 ca. and died in 1226), according to the precise description of his first biographer, Tommaso da Celano. Francesco is therefore depicted as an emaciated man with short and precociously graying hair and beard, while it is worth remembering that in devotional art his representation as an inspired and sorrowful man was particularly widespread starting from the years of the counter-reform.
The image painted in this canvas portrays him at a little more than half a figure and slightly sideways, with the good-natured gaze turned to the faithful, dressed in the usual gray-colored habit, the index finger on the right (marked by the stigmata) aimed at indicating the paradise and with the narrow crucifix on the left. As usual in this type of representation, the scene is set between the background of the pale blue sky crossed by white clouds and a dark rocky ravine designed to evoke the nearby cave in which tradition has it that he was isolated to meditate.
Finally, both the presence of the effective piece of still life consisting of skull, rosary, voluminous prayer book and Franciscan cord with peculiar knots and the evident portraiture definition of the ascetic face of St. Francis should be highlighted.
The stylistic characteristics of the composition reveal that we are in a work of a valid painter from central Italy with adequate technical executive skills active between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century and the overall design of severe and effective scenography that immediately makes us think of Giovanni Laurentini known as Arrigoni (Sant'Agata Feltrisa 1550 - Rimini 1633), one of the most eccentric painters of his time.
Born in the Rimini hinterland after the incredible beginnings in his homeland, he oriented his figurative language towards the most current visual thought of the Zuccari brothers, but later, he arrived in Urbino where his real pictorial training took place in close contact with the artistic innovations by Federico Barocci acquired a better awareness of the changes brought about by the new figurative solutions of the great master.
Consequently he devoted himself to the construction of large altarpieces such as the Madonna and Child who appears in San Giacinto (Rimini church of s. Maria in corte) and the Madonna and Child enthroned adored by two angels and by SS. Sebastiano Giuseppe Francesco e Giorgio (Montrecompatri church of Santa Maria Assunta).
To have a validation of our attribution we can compare our St. Francis in prayer as well as with the works already mentioned also with others by Laurentini such as San Bernardino da siena which he presents to his father martino V the JHS Christogram (Rimini church of San Bernardino) and the delivery of the keys to San Piretro (Rimini city museum).
These paintings show non-random stylistic conformities or colors with harsh yet pleasant shades obtained with a rich and full-bodied pictorial mixture in which his extravagant visionary coexists with acute environmental notations.
The paintings and works of art published here are my exclusive property and therefore are always available to be viewed, by appointment, in my exhibition sites located in Sanremo and Brescia.
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Mr. Riccardo Moneghini
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