GIOTTO di Bondone
(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)
Legend of St Francis: 15. Sermon to the Birds1297-99
Fresco, 270 x 200 cm
Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi
This is the fifteenth of the twenty-eight scenes (twenty-five of which were painted by Giotto) of the Legend of Saint Francis.
The two scenes on the entrance wall are the Miracle of the Spring and the Sermon to the Birds, the compositions in which the hand of Giotto is most apparent.
St. Francis came across a flock of birds that did not fly away at his approach. He gave a sermon to the expectantly waiting creatures, who only left the saint after receiving his blessing. As so often, Giotto makes plain the extraordinary nature of events through the reaction of a secondary figure - in this case, through the Franciscan friar, who raises his hand with a surprised expression on his face.