“The Stigmatization of St. Francis” by Vicente Carducho (c. 1610-1630) Accession # 93.5

The Stigmatization of St. Francis is an oil on canvas painting by Vicente Carducho (also known as Vincenzo Carducci). Carducho is an Italian artist who may have painted this piece any time beween 1610 and 1630.  This painting shows a scene from the life of the highly influential 13th century Catholic priest, St. Francis of Assisi. He is renown for being the first person to ever experience stigmatization, which is the excruciating process of being given marks on one’s hands and feet similar to those that Christ received when he was crucified. It is a medical mystery, as some doctors say that the blood that initially pours from these wounds does not actually match the blood type of the person on which they are afflicted. St. Francis received these “Mystical Stigmata” around 1224 and they stayed with him for the rest of his life – a high honor. This painting is his reaction shortly after the stigmatization – St. Francis has holes in his hand, and his arms are spread to represent Christ. His face is towards a shining figure in the heavens, implying his gratefulness that he was chosen for such an honor. A man is standing behind him, facing the sky and holding what seems to be a Bible, in what can be interpreted as a state of amazement due to what recently occurred.

King Philip II of Spain employed Vicente Carducho, a painter of Italian origin. Spain is a famously Catholic country, and for the king Carducho painted many artistic interpretations of religious events. When he finished working for Philip II, monks hired him to decorate their monastery. He painted 27 canvases with picture of the life of St. Bruno, and 27 more with the lives of martyrs. He died peacefully in Madrid as a very successful painter.

Carducho used baroque painting techniques to create images of religiously important people in order to honor and remember them in the most similar way to photography that was accessible at that time. This required extreme detail and careful brushstrokes, seen especially in the vivid texture of St. Francis’ robe. Carducho used texture to draw attention to the main focus of his piece by using more careful detail on St. Francis himself. Texture is much more subdued for the aspects of the painting in the background.

 

– Kelsey Weekman

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