(b. 1280/85, Siena, d. 1344, Avignon)
Division of the Cloak (scene 1)1320-25
Fresco, 265 x 230 cm
Cappella di San Martino, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi
The first fresco depicts the famous episode of the Division of the Cloak, the story for which Martin is best known: having come across a beggar dressed in rags on a cold winter morning, Martin gave him half of his cloak. To the left, the city of Amiens, where the incident occurred, with its crenellated fortifications and defence towers. To the right, in the upper section, a head: to try and justify this strange presence we must examine the synopia of the fresco in the Museum of the Basilica. Originally Simone had planned the composition differently: the beggar was shown with his arms outstretched towards the cloak and the city gate was on the opposite side. This helps us understand the position of this solitary profile, very close and parallel to the side frame. But then Simone changed his mind, covered the wall with another layer of intonaco, drew a new synopia and with a brushstroke of blue paint cancelled that first face which has now resurfaced.