Offered by Galerie Thierry Matranga
Old paintings, religious artifacts, archeology
Oil on canvas. Florence 17th century. Lorenzo Lippi.
This graceful work depicts St. Francis of Assisi, an Italian monk of the 12th century, in an episode of his life that is rarely represented in the history of art and whose legend has come down to us through the account given by Father Salvatore Vitale in his Historia serafica. Saint Francis prays with his hands on his chest, revealing his stigmata. Caressing the dream of entering the priesthood but not feeling worthy of it, he seeks an answer to this dilemma in prayer. Then an angel holding a bottle of water appeared to him in a mystical vision: "Look, Francis," he said, "this is how pure he must be who wishes to give the body and blood of Christ to men. Believing that he would never reach this degree of perfection, the humble young man renounced the priesthood. In this way, the artist represents the silent dialogue that takes place in the very conscience of St. Francis.
Our painting is an unpublished version of a subject already painted by the Florentine artist and poet Lorenzo Lippi in the late 1650s and now kept in the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Trieste. Notwithstanding some variations in detail, our composition matches this other version. Lippi's painting here is filled with an aura of devotion that would delight Tridentine Christianity. To do so, his style resorts to a stripped-down realism, which is embodied in the naturalistic treatment of St. Francis's robe, whose weave, frayed sleeves and seams can be seen. Here, the saint's eyes are half-closed, his head surmounted by a halo whose oblique position gives it added realism and perspective compared to the Trieste version. The Franciscan three-knot rope symbolizing the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience is also present. This naturalistic style is similar to that adopted by Giuseppe de Ribera in his Vision of St. Francis, which was part of the Medici collection in the 1630s and from which Lippi was probably inspired. He differs from the Spanish master, however, in his more serene treatment of the face, giving us a softer flesh tone. Opposite St. Francis stands the angel, whose face has the perfection of the adolescent's, and which can be found in many of Lorenzo Lippi's compositions, foremost among them his St. Catherine of Alexandria (private collection). The light bulb he is holding is more finely worked than in the Triestine version, revealing light highlights that indicate the sole source of light. Finally, through this play of glances that do not cross, the painter orchestrates a deep spiritual exchange between the two protagonists, which is reminiscent of the style of his contemporaries Francesco Furini or Cesare Dandini. As an accomplished virtuoso, Lorenzo Lippi has created a work of museum quality whose naturalism creates an impression of religious ecstasy that is sure to delight the soul.
In its original frame in molded wood and gilded.
Dimensions: 95 x 115 cm - 118 x 140 cm with the frame
Sold with certificate of expertise and invoice
Biography: Both a painter and a poet, Lorenzo Lippi (Florence, May 3, 1606 - Id. April 15, 1665) apprenticed with Matteo Rosselli with whom he decorated many churches in the Florence area. After becoming emancipated in 1630, he opened his own workshop in 1634. His first paintings show a style close to that of his master and his use of sfumato, to increase the dramatic effect of his works, is reminiscent of the work of Francesco Furini. It was in the 1640s that he developed a more personal style based on figures with pure and simple lines inspired in particular by the manner of Santi di Tito. This stylistic evolution can be seen in the altar frescoes he painted in the years 1650-1660. The limpidity of his compositions allows him to distill his literary and philosophical knowledge into didactic paintings for the faithful. His friend Baldinucci praises his artistic talents in his biography of him.
- D'AFFLITTO Chiara, Lorenzo Lippi, Florence, Edifir, 2002.
- Florence in the Great Century: between painting and literature, Dir. Elena Fumagalli, Massimiliano Rossi, (cat. exp., Ajaccio, Palais Fesch, July - October 2011), Silvana Editoriale, 2011.
- MALE, Emile, L'art religieux du XVIIe siècle, [Armand Colin, 1931], 2nd edition, Paris, Armand Colin, 1984.
- REAU, Louis, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 3 vols. Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1959.