(b. ca. 1426, Venezia, d. 1516, Venezia)
St Francis in Ecstasy1480-85
Oil on panel, 120 x 137 cm
Frick Collection, New York
Giovanni Bellini responded positively to Flemish realism and the new luminous capacities of the oil medium. In this panel St Francis stands in the midst of a landscape which is replete with the complex symbolic allusions of Flemish art - plants, animals, and household objects alluding to Franciscan ideals of poverty and humility. Resembling a stigmatisation, this scene may be, rather, a meditation on Francis identification with creation. It is dawn, the rocks a cool grey-green, except where the first rays of the sun begin to warmth the earth. Francis stretches out his arms and looks skyward, where, in traditional Franciscan stigmatisations, one would expect to find a seraph. Natural beauty and light are sufficient to describe the divine.