GIOTTO di Bondone
(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)

Allegory of Poverty (detail)

c. 1320
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

Poverty, the bride of St Francis, stands careworn and dressed in rags amongst withered thorns. This, however, is only how she appears in the eyes of the world, for behind her, in the heavenly regions, the most beautiful roses blossom from the undergrowth. Christ leads Poverty, who appears here beside him as his own companion, towards the saint to be wed. Before Giotto's invention, this kind of representation, which unites numerous symbolic details with a lively narrative to create an allegory was only known in literary works.