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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:35

Video transcript

we're in the Louvre and we're looking at a large altar panel by Giotto of st. Francis it's a really spectacular painting it is it shows st. Francis receiving the stigmata from Christ who appeared to him in the form of a Seraphim and what's striking is that this is not st. Francis in a very iconic frontal way as we might have expected in the more medieval tradition exactly instead Francis is kneeling he's in a naturalistic landscape or the beginnings we could say a van Angeles tick landscape and as he receives the stigmata he looks up and Wonder and awe and confusion and even some anxiety a little fear there yeah but they are very human emotions it's really an expression of your right not an eternal iconic image but rather of a moment of a man responding and his body is rendered naturalistic laity we have modeling so we see the folds in the drapery we see his left knee is right knee folded under him the modeling in his hands where we see the stigmata modeling in his face so he really seems like this bulky three-dimensional presence really different from the flat transcendent figures of only a little bit earlier and actually other artists that are still painting I want to go back to that point you made a moment ago of the naturalistic landscape because this is certainly not naturalism as we would expect now in the 21st century but it is at the very beginning of the 14th or the very end of the 13th century quite an extraordinary innovation to place this really physical figure as you had described him in an environment with trees with a mountain clearly his scale doesn't match the buildings and the trees but there's an effort here by Giotto to place him on earth not just in a heavenly space so we see this extraordinary gold-filled background the light of heaven pours down and we see that literally in the vine rays that go from the Seraphim from Christ down to Francis down to his feet to his hands and to the wound in his side this gift from heaven for his faithfulness now it's important to remember the Francis was a mendicant was a beggar that he had given up his worldly possessions and like the Dominicans the Franciscans would renounce worldly possessions in honor of Christ and initially there are some reports that the church was not sure that it wanted to accept Saint Francis's ideas and so the predella below is important because it shows very much the acceptance of Francis so we have these three scenes below in the predella showing Pope Innocent the Third's vision of Francis supporting a church the necks of blessing that order of the followers of st. Francis the Franciscans and then Saint Francis preaching to the birds those are all really interesting stories this dream of the Pope this great miracle in which he dreamt that Francis was not only supporting a church but was supporting a church that was falling down his crucial allegory of course were metaphor the acceptance of Francis this central scene very very important the literally the embrace of the church to this mendicant order legitimizes that's right absolutely legitimizing and you know if you think about it for a moment the mendicants did represent a kind of threat you know the church was a very wealthy institution it was a very powerful institution and here were these followers of Christ saying Christ preached poverty I'm taking that on for the church to embrace that was a very important step and then of course on the right this relationship between Francis and nature Francis living in the desert or living in the wilderness having the sort of this direct relationship with all of God's creation is placed here and one of the reasons that Francis is often linked to sort of ecological movements and often seen as a patron of nature I love the way he reaches out toward the animals the way that the figures are very stark against that gold background so they're this heavenly realm but simultaneously in an earthly realm it seems to me that Giotto has United both this is simplicity to Joe's work that includes a kind of emotional recognize that as think has made his work seem incredibly authentic for many many years and artists are constantly looking back to the so called Italian primitives for that sort of direct vision and here we have it at its most beautiful