Manuscript Leaf with Scenes from the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi

Date: ca. 1320–42

Geography: Made in Bologna (for Hungarian use), Italy

Culture: Italian

Medium: Tempera and gold on parchment

Dimensions: 8 5/8 x 6 5/8in. (21.9 x 16.8cm)

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin L. Weisl, Jr., 1994

Accession Number: 1994.516


Scenes from the story of Saint Francis of Assisi, Assisi, founder of the Franciscans, appear in the quadrants of this manuscript leaf. At the upper left, the nimbed and tonsured saint is shown wearing the characteristic garb of the Franciscan order: a hooded brown robe, secured at the waist by a knotted cord, and sandals. The stigmata--the five marks corresponding to Christ's wounds from the crucifixion--are visible on his feet and outstretched hands. He addresses a group of birds and two timid animals, whose whiskered muzzles and paws alone can be discerned. Depicted at the upper right is the death of Saint Francis, who is surrounded by his followers. At the lower left, the saint appears through a window to revive a dead woman so that she may make her last confession. At the lower right, he leads a debtor out of prison.

This leaf is part of a celebrated manuscript, already dispersed by the seventeenth century. The choice of saints, the rich gilding and lavish decoration of the profusely illustrated ensemble indicate that the manuscript was a commission for Hungarian royalty.