Saint Francis in Ecstasy

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto) Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 620

Castiglione voraciously absorbed a range of precedents—Van Dyck, Rubens, and Rembrandt, among others—to establish unique, radical techniques of both drawing and painting. Short repeated diagonal brushstrokes build up the clothing, and rich impasto gives a tactile physicality to the still life of skull and open book. Saint Francis (1181/82–1226) is depicted on a rocky precipice, silhouetted against the evening sky at a dramatic moment of devotion to a sculpture depicting Christ’s crucifixion. By contrast, the skull and book symbolize mortality and vanities of the world.

Saint Francis in Ecstasy, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto) (Italian, Genoa 1609–1664 Mantua), Oil on canvas

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