MASTER OF THE FOGG PIETÀ
Italian, 14th century
Saint Francis, about 1350
Painting on panel
The Master of the Fogg Pietà, to whom this work is attributed, is so named after a small painting by the same hand at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The distinctive style has enabled art historians to attribute a number of works to that artist, even though virtually nothing is known of his life and identity. It is believed that he worked in Florence and was greatly influenced by the rich, decorative surface of paintings produced in nearby Siena. The Master of the Fogg Pietà continued a tradition begun by the early Renaissance painter Giotto, in which the modeling of the figure, in this case Saint Francis, helps to create a more realistic depiction of form and space.
Saint Francis, who founded the religious order of the Franciscans in the early thirteenth century, is represented here over one hundred years later. He is easily recognized by the stigmata, marks corresponding to the wounds that appear on Christ's hands, feet, and side. The inscription on the scroll records part of the Epistle of his Mass. In addition to Saint Francis, the Worcester Art Museum owns a twin panel depicting Saint Philip; both panels appear to have been part of a large altarpiece.