St. Francis receives the stigmata Oil on wood, 68 x 56 cm.
The painting is in a good state of legibility and depicts a hilly wooded landscape with St. Francis kneeling and swooning in front of a miraculous apparition in the shape of a purple cross, where behind he, on the hill to the right, is seen seated the faithful disciple, Brother Leo, holding a voluminous prayer book in his left hand.
The Poverello of Assisi, who was born in 1182 ca. and died in 1226, he is portrayed according to the precise description of Tommaso da Celano, his first biographer, and is therefore depicted as a pale man, with a short beard and the usual gray-colored habit; it will be useful to remember that in devotional art the representation of the saint as a friar with a halo and in divine ecstasy had a particular diffusion starting from the Renaissance.
The image painted in this panel evidently derives from a reworking of the well-known story of the aforementioned Tommaso da Celano, according to which an angelic vision similar to a red seraph appeared to St. Francis and while the saint contemplated him, miraculously appeared on his body the stigmata that remained until his death.
From a more strictly stylistic point of view, this painting shows the typical characteristics of sixteenth-century Italian pictorial culture: the soft, slightly pearly hues, the chromatic intonations with well-balanced color agreements and the compendiary physiognomies of the two friars refer to the cultured and varied figurative language a Lombard artist with unique technical and executive skills active during the sixteenth century; it is in fact evident that the interesting composition appears pervaded by a tenderly light and therefore pleasant vein, which enhances both the polite image of St. Francis, portrayed slightly sideways, and the shady landscape with the church and the small abbey placed on top of one of the hills visible in the background; but our table also shows itself in tune with the peculiar pictorial solutions of the artists trained in the tradition of the figurative tradition of Romanino and Moretto: we are therefore in the presence of an author who acts in correspondence of intent with example and teaching of the major masters active in the Brescia area during the sixteenth century.
It is therefore with the compositions of those industrious painters in Lombardy in the middle of the sixteenth century, inventors of novel sets for biblical and evangelical themes, that this painting of setting and tenderly fabulistic tones must be related, more precisely linked to the modus pingendi of Luca Mombello ( Orzivecchi, 1518 / 20-1588 / 96), a rather rare author, a follower of Romanino but above all a pupil of Moretto, a proponent of unreal settings pervaded by an almost enchanted light, not surprisingly resembling that which permeates the work in question.
It will be useful to remember that according to tradition our artist began as a skilled cabinetmaker in the master's atelier and then almost certainly had his own workshop with which he fulfilled commissions mainly of a religious nature for the nobility and clergy of Brescia; despite the scarcity of biographical data - we know from documents found in the State Archives of Brescia that he lived in that city, in the ancient quarter of the fourth square of San Faustino and had a son named Antonio -, he was equally object of pioneering studies that have revealed a more defined artistic profile within the lively circle of industrious painters in the Lombard territories.
To confirm the proposed proposal, it will therefore be sufficient to compare our Saint Francis who receives the stigmata with other works produced in the industrious workshop of Luca Mombello, such as the Presentation of Jesus in the temple (Brescia, Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo) or the Madonna signed and dated “LUCA MO / FECIT 1580” (Brescia, church of San Giuseppe). In these two paintings, similar in stylistic signs to the table in question, an attentive painting is highlighted, steeped in tender human participation and with a precise desire to recover the early sixteenth-century Venetian figurative culture: recurring characters in the best works licensed by Mombello.
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