I. Classification, characteristics:
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The theme is Saint Francis receiving the stigmata. Bellini was a painter during the renaissance. This work was done probably in Florence between the XV and XVI centuries, on the famous quattrocento Italian. Now it is in New York in the Frick collection. The work possesses every characteristics of the Renaissance, but it is different in its study of light and shadows. We can see that where the light touches, there is life, vegetation and joy. Bellini takes advantage of the landscape to represent the nature, and he emphasizes the human figure in Saint Francis. There are no outlines in the paint (around each figure). Bellini tried to show a spiritual force in this painting.
The theme is Saint Francis receiving the stigmata. It was painted in oil on panel more or less 1 m x 1.30. The proportion is hierarchic, showing the disposition of the human and divine; the play of light and shadows appears throughout whole painting, giving life to the painting. The colors are a little bit unreal in some parts, idealizing some parts of the painting.
The theme is Saint Francis receiving the stigmata while he was on retreat in the mountains. Saint Francis is standing up, stretching out his arms like Jesus Christ on the cross to redeem us from our sins. The landscape is a perfect representation of the saint’s life. The painting is divided into three parts.
The first part towards the back of the painting is the representation of the early life of the saint. There is a castle, there are buildings, trees and flowers, and everything is bright. That was what his life was like before following Christ: full of honors and the delights of the life. That seems like the best life, but it is not a real life, because it lacks Christ.
Jesus enters into his life. Saint Francis leaves everything. This is depicted in the middle part of the painting. All the vegetation is dead; there are only rocks and thorns. But he has to pass through that before reaching the glory of Jesus. That is a hard way of leaving people nag going to the silence to find Jesus in his life. The humility and simplicity are showed in this part by the donkey.
The third part, in the foreground, before arriving at Saint Francis, there are many thorns symbolizing the sufferings for Christ and the abnegation necessary to enter in His presence. We arrived and there is Saint Francis, receiving the stigmas on retreat. It is also bright here, but is different from the foreground: it is shiner, symbolizing the glory of Christ which is bigger, better than what the world offers.
The foreground is a poor place, but rich in many details. There are flowers where is the presence of Christ. These flowers symbolize the virtues, and one in concrete is chastity. Behind Saint Francis is the fleur de lis, symbol of the saint’s purity. Poverty is represented by his poor cubicle made of wood in the rocks. The skull, the Bible and the cross show Saint Francis the realities of his life: the reality of death, the need to know Christ and to suffer for Him.
From heaven are coming an intense light and wind, symbols of God in the Old Testament. God is coming upon Saint Francis. The Light is very shine, and where it is touching there is life. The light is bright among the trees and rock formations. Saint Francis is suffering, but he trusts in God.
God is coming and giving him this gift. Christ is powerful and wonderful when He touches us with his grace. At the bottom Bellini’s name is on the rocks.
It was taken from my personal knowledge, notes, and reflections.