Ecstasy of Saint Francis of Assisi

Carlo Saraceni

Church of Santissimo Redentore

Made in Venice in the last year of life of Carlo Saraceni (1620), the work fully shows the new precepts of the Counter-reformation. The Saint iconography that from Giotto onwards showed the poor man of Assisi receive the sacred signs on his hands and feet from cherub rays is now long gone.
Counter-reformed devotion favours a more intimate scene, with the saint already stigmatized, sitting on his bed with his arms crossed, looking upwards where a violin-playing angel appears to him. The ecstatic view is ensured by the cloud on which the celestial messenger lies at his feet and by the typical Caravaggio beam of light which actually points to the flight direction of the angel. The inside of the room is ideal for a splendid still life made up of realistically portrayed baskets, sandals and benches.
From an iconographic perspective, the skull detail on the table of the saint is very interesting, confirming once again the total adhesion of the painting to the new reigning religiosity.


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