This exhibition at FAAP's Brazilian Art Museum features Saint Francis of Assisi, who has been one of the most popular Catholic saints in history.
With curatorial design by art-history specialist Giovanni Morello and Pinacoteca Civica Di Ascoli’s director Stefano Papetti, the "Saint Francis in the Art of Italian Masters" exhibition features 18 works by artists from the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, including Tiziano Vecellio, Pietro Perugino and Guido Reni. Most of the paintings have come from public collections in different regions of Italy.
The exhibit includes a virtual reality room enabling visitors to walk through the Upper Basilica of Assisi (1228), one of Italy's most important and finest churches, which holds
masterpieces by Giotto (1267-1337), the Italian painter who symbolized the medieval and pre-Renaissance periods.
Visitors will be able to see how depictions of Saint Francis developed over time in works that had become part of the period’s local culture and are still appreciated in Western culture for their artistic, historical and symbolic values.
Francis is historically important as a personality marked by humility, joy and charisma. His dedication to the poor and love of nature have inspired a collective imaginary that has endured over the centuries.
The exhibition is divided into three groups: Images, Stigmata and Sacra Conversazione. In the first group (Images) there are paintings by Perugino and Cigoli, the first Italian artists to depict Saint Francis of Assisi. Their images are imbued with great spiritual power, despite his lean figure reflecting his austere life and afflictions.
The second group features the stigmata (scars) that appeared while Francis was meditating on Monte della Verna in 1224. Stigmata are physical manifestations but traditionally were supposed to be of spiritual origin since they reflected Christ’s five wounds - on his feet, wrists, and chest - when nailed to the cross. This section includes a Tiziano (aka Titian) oil-on-canvas that is almost three meters high and a Guido Reni oil-on-copper showing the stigmata just after their appearance.
Group three features sacra conversazione images of Saint Francis of Assis with the Virgin and other saints venerated by the faithful and patrons, such as Nicola Filotesio's Virgin and Child among saints Sebastian, Francisco and Roque.
The exhibition’s treasures have come from 15 collections located in in 7 Italian cities: Galleria Corsini, Palazzo Barberini, Musei Capitolini, Museo di Roma, Museo Francescano dell’Istituto Storico dei Cappuccini (Roma); Pinacoteca Civica, Sacrestia della chiesa di San Francesco, Convento Cappuccini (Ascoli Piceno); Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo (L'Aquila), Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria (Perugia); Istituto Campana per l'Istruzione Permanente (Osimo); Museo Civico (Rieti), Pinacoteca Nazionale (Bolonha) and Duomo di Novara (Novara). There is also a major Ludovico Cardi (aka Cigoli) loaned from the American collector and actor Federico Castelluccio.
Art historian Giovanni Morello has designed and curated several exhibitions for the Vatican in Italy and elsewhere. He is a member of the Holy See’s commission for historical and artistic monuments and has written many books, including Vatican Treasures - 2000 years of art and culture in the Vatican and Italy.
Stefano Papetti, the director of Pinacoteca Civica Di Ascoli, has a long and distinguished record. As president of the Salimbeni di San Severino Marche (foundation), he organized Gothic Art exhibits featuring Renaissance painters from Italy’s Le Marche region, including 17th-century works by regional artists Carlo and Vittore Crivelli, Simone de Magistris, Pier Leone Ghezzi and Antonio Amorosi. He has written more than 80 books on Le Marche artistic history.