Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Saint Francis Before the Bishop

Attributed to Niccolò Solimani (Niccolò da Verona) (Italian, Mantua act. 1461–93)
ca. 1469
Pen and light and dark brown ink, brown wash, over traces of black chalk.
9 5/8 x 7 3/16 in. (24.5 x 18.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), the son of a prosperous merchant, who abandoned his life of worldly pleasures in order to dedicate himself to the service of God, is portrayed here renouncing his clothing before Bishop Hugo of Assisi, who dresses and protects him. At left, Francis’s father, who is angry that his son has proclaimed God as his only father, is restrained. Unlike earlier depictions of this subject in fresco cycles, in which this scene unfolds outdoors in the city of Assisi, here it takes place in a vaulted interior. The drawing was formerly attributed to Giovanni Angelo d’Antonio, a painter from the Marches region of Italy. Recently it has been identified as a preparatory study for part of a fresco series portraying the Life of Saint Francis in the Cappella della Rama in the church of San Francesco, Mantua, where there survives a nearly identical sinopia (underdrawing) of this composition. The frescoes have been attributed to Niccolò Solimani (Niccolò da Verona), a follower of Mantegna who is documented working for the chapel’s patron, Francesco della Rama, in 1469.
Luigi Grassi, Florence (Lugt Suppl. 1171b); Frits Lugt, Paris; Grassi sale 1924, lot 68. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1924.
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