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San Francesco Siena

San Francesco

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Artist: Domenico di Niccolò dei cori
Current location: Museo di San Donato - Collezione di Banca MPS
Original location:


Height 89.5 cm

The sculpture, already in a private collection, was purchased by Monte dei Paschi in 1987. Despite the adolescent features of the Saint's face - decidedly unusual for the iconography of San Francesco - in sculpture it is easy to recognize the effigy of the poor man of Assisi who, new Christ, shows the faithful the signs of the stigmata present on the hands, feet and side. Francesco is holding in his hand the book of the Rule of the Order which he founded on which, as the traces still surviving of the original painting suggest, the illuminated decoration typical of the ancient parchment codes had to be reproduced. The quadrilobo hole on the saint's chest and the quadrangular cavities that open in the base of the sculpture served to contain the relics of the Saint of Assisi, attesting to the sculpture an original function of statue-reliquary. The work has been recognized by critics as one of the masterpieces of the youthful activity of Domenico di Niccolò dei choirs in which the vein of delicate and careful naturalism typical of the late Gothic culture of the great Sienese sculptor is best expressed. The refined and glazed polychrome of the complexion refers to the pictorial ways of the Sienese Andrea di Bartolo for whom, at the beginning of the fifteenth century, an activity aimed at painting wooden sculptures is attested by the documents. As has been widely emphasized by the most recent studies on the subject, in Siena wood sculpture was the result of a close collaboration between the sculptor and the painter: the sculptor created the shapes of the figure in wood on which, at the end of the work, he came applied a thin layer of plaster; this delicate operation - which should not have compromised the quality of the modeling of the sculpted parts - was preparatory to the drafting of the color, which the painter personally provided.

San Francesco