Frescoes in the south transept of the Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

The south transept (the south arm of the western transept) of the Lower Church in the San Francesco at Assisi was decorated by Pietro Lorenzetti from the vault down to the floor with scenes from the Passion. The decoration is complete and the transept has a unitary appearance. The lower part of the walls are painted with pseudo-marble.

On the barrel vault there are six stories from the life of Christ. The first is the Entry into Jerusalem, it is followed by the Last Supper, the Washing of Feet, the Capture of Christ, the Flagellation and the Road to Calvary. These frescoes, probably the artist's first fresco commission, were begun as early as 1315 and his work at Assisi may well have extended intermittently over several years. The overall effect of the vault is too crowded to be monumental, individual scenes are astonishingly ambitious in their spatial organization.

On the curved wall below the vaults Pietro created the huge Crucifixion, the most ambitious of all pre-Renaissance crowd scenes; it comprises some fifty figures, each strongly differentiated. Under the Crucifixion, at eye level, he painted a 'sacred conversation', Mary and Child between Sts Francis and John the Evangelist.

On the concluding wall of the transept (the south wall) Pietro painted events after the death of Christ: high up on the arch the Descent into Limbo and the Resurrection, below, on a flat surface, the Deposition and the Entombment, monumental groups with life-size figures. Under the Deposition there is a painted architecture with a trompe l'oeil bench. The wall is divided by an altar-niche, destined to be the burial place of Cardinal Napoleone Orsini. The fresco decoration of this chapel is lost except for the triptych representing the Madonna and Child between Sts John and Francis. The tomb below the triptych is empty.

On the wall opposite to the Crucifixion, there are stairs leading to a little balcony and the cloister. On the wall the scene of the Stigmata of St Francis can be seen.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Panoramic view of the frescoes
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

True Color
188 Kb

View of the south arm of the western transept
c. 1320
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

True Color
193 Kb

Paintings by Pietro Lorenzetti
| Paintings in the Lower Church, Assisi | Various paintings |