Frescoes in St Martin Chapel of the Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi
by SIMONE MARTINI

The Chapel of St Martin (Cappella di San Martino), opening from the south transept of the Lower Church, is a rectangular room covered by a barrel vault and ending in a hexagonal apse containing three large two-light windows decorated by splendid stained-glass. The decoration of the walls, executed by Simone Martini, is devoted to St Martin of Tours.

The frescoes of the chapel were commissioned by Robert d'Anjou, the king of Naples, fulfilling the last wishes of Cardinal Gentile Partino da Montefiore. This churchman journeyed to Buda in 1307 where he played an important role in obtaining the Hungarian throne for Charles Robert of Anjou. He returned from Hungary with donations collected for the church of St Francis of Assisi. In 1312 he decided to include a chapel dedicated to his patron saint, St Martin.

St Martin, the Pannonian-born Roman knight of the fourth century, abandoned a successful military career in order to dedicate his life to religion. The fresco series of the chapel is faithful to the legends relating his life. The story of his investiture may have been particularly dear to Simone Martini, who was himself a knight.

Starting from the entrance of the chapel, from left to right and from top to bottom, the side walls and barrel-vaulted ceiling are frescoed with scenes from the life of St Martin: on the lower level, the Division of the Cloak, the Dream, St Martin is Knighted and Renounces his Weapons; on the middle level, the Miracle of the Resurrected Child, Meditation, the Miraculous Mass and the Miracle of Fire; on the top level we find the last two episodes, Death and Burial of the Saint.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 12 minutes):
Gregorian chants


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
View of the St Martin Chapel
1320-25
Fresco
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

1000*1221
True Color
254 Kb



View of the St Martin Chapel
1320-25
Fresco
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

850*1143
True Color
190 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Martin
1320-25
Fresco
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

1000*1213
True Color
265 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Martin
1320-25
Fresco
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

1000*1230
True Color
269 Kb




Summary of paintings by Simone Martini
Early works | The Maestŕ | Frescoes in the Lower Church, Assisi
Guidoriccio da Fogliano | The Annunciations | Last works
Altarpieces
Altar of St Louis of Toulouse | Cambridge Altarpiece | Pisa Polyptych
Orvieto Polyptych | Agostino Novello Altarpiece | Orsini Polyptych