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

Legend of St Francis: 17. St Francis Preaching before Honorius III

Fresco, 270 x 230 cm
Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi

This is the seventeenth of the twenty-eight scenes (twenty-five of which were painted by Giotto) of the Legend of Saint Francis.

Francis wanted to surprise Pope Honorius III with a well-prepared sermon; however, he lost the thread of what he was saying and had to improvise. His address captivated everyone and convinced them that the spirit of God spoke through him. Giotto expresses this through the different reactions of those listening, reflected especially in the lively facial expressions.

As he experienced with depicting space, Giotto's knowledge increased. In this fresco painted a three-dimensional "box" representing the hall. He then emphasized the space by cleverly arranging the architectural elements and human figures within it. This gives the figures volume, defined in space by the depth of the regular geometrical solids. The magnificent Gothic hall emphasizes the dignity of the pope and rhythmically articulates the group of figures.