Orazio Gentileschi (Italian, 1563–1639)
Saint Francis in Ecstasy, c. 1607
Oil on canvas, 49 5/8 x 38 5/8 in.
(126 x 98 cm)
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Although eight years older than Caravaggio, Orazio Gentileschi became one of his friends, adapting his art and making it his own. While this work acknowledges Caravaggio’s Saint Francis in Ecstasy, it also adopts the close-up view used in many of his other works to focus attention entirely on the saint’s mystical experience. Saint Francis is likened to Christ being comforted by an angel on the Mount of Olives, so deeply has he experienced Christ’s sacrifice. The eye lingers on the saint’s wounded hand, his limp yet rapturous expression, and the warm embrace of the angel who supports him. Gentileschi testified that he had lent Caravaggio a Capuchin habit and a set of wings, doubtless the studio props he used to paint this picture with such striking detail.
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