St. Francis Supported by an Angel
Overall (framed): 139.4 x 101 cm (54 7/8 x 39 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
William I. Koch Gallery (Gallery 250)
To combat the spread of Protestantism, the Catholic Church encouraged artists to reassert the importance of the saints and paint dramatic, sensual imagery with which the faithful could empathize. Emotionally-charged depictions of Saint Francis were especially popular. Gentileschi chose to focus on the friar’s ecstatic state—he didn’t include the traditional stigmata, or wounds of Christ, said to have been imprinted on the saint’s body while at prayer. A document from 1603 records that Gentileschi lent his younger colleague Caravaggio a monk’s habit and a pair of swan wings, studio props that appear in this painting and in later works by Caravaggio.
1960s, Antichità Alberto di Castro, Rome. By 1973, Alvar González-Palacios, Rome. Mario Tazzoli (d. 1990), Turin; passed from Tazzoli to Massimo Martino, Lugano and Monte Carlo; January, 1989, sold by Martino to Stephen Mazoh, Rheinbeck, New York; 2010, sold by Stephen Mazoh, through Richard L. Feigen, Inc., New York, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 16, 2010)
Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund