MASTER of St Francis
(active c. 1260-1280 in Umbria)


Italian painter. This painter of frescoes and panels and, perhaps, designer of stained glass in the district around Perugia was named by Thode after a panel of St Francis with Angels in S Maria degli Angeli, Assisi. Much of the work attributed to him was part of the early phase in the decoration of S Francesco, Assisi, and includes the fresco cycle in the nave of the Lower Church with five scenes from the Passion on the right wall and five scenes from the Life of St Francis on the left. (These were damaged by the later opening of the side chapels.) In spite of the obvious participation of assistants, the entire cycle seems to have been planned by a single artist and can be considered as homogeneous and characteristic of his style. This was largely based on the later works of Giunta Pisano but also shows the influence of such Umbrian artists as Rainaldetto di Ranuccio, Simeone and Machilone and of contemporary manuscript illumination, for example the Gospel Book of Giovanni da Gaibena (Padua, Biblioteca Capitolare). The Master of St Francis embodies an important aspect of the contact between Italian and Byzantine art of this period: Byzantine elements, particularly of iconography, are found with western forms of ornamentation and a use of colour that is far from Byzantine.