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Showing posts from June, 2011

St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata

I'm doing a little research for a drawing I'd like to make of St. Francis receiving the Stigmata. I'm trying to see if there's a traditionally accepted iconography...figures, objects, postures, symbols, etc. that help tell the story, teach sound doctrine, and are consistent throughout Catholic art. I came across three examples by three artists that I very much enjoy. Going chronologically we have...  Giotto (c. 1295-1300, Italian) Van Eyck (c. 1430-1432, Netherlands) El Greco (c. 1585-1590) In each, there are definitely similarities. St. Francis wears the Franciscan habit of course, he is generally kneeling, displays Christ's wounds in his own praying hands, and is confronted by a vision of a 6-winged seraph bearing a crucifix. The differences are striking as well.  Giotto is painting during the Gothic era, and his image bears a Byzantine influence common to Italian painting at that time. St. Francis and Christ look almost like icons against a guilded backg


Sitting in a dentist's office waiting room today, I read a magazine article that referenced an important work that I hadn't heard of before... In 1593, Cesare Ripa (an Italian aesthetician) published Iconologia, a model book of allegorical figures.  There are short descriptions of the symbols and figures, followed by woodcuts of the figures which illustrate concepts such as virtues and vices, arts and sciences.  Some of the baroque masters, Vermeer for instance, referenced Ripa's work.  You can read it online here: