St. Francis of Assisi at Prayer (1645 – 1650) by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

St. Francis of Assisi at Prayer - Bartolome Esteban Murillo - 1645 - 1650

Artwork Information

TitleSt. Francis of Assisi at Prayer
ArtistBartolome Esteban Murillo
Date1645 - 1650
Dimensions182 x 129 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationCathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium

About St. Francis of Assisi at Prayer

The artwork entitled “St. Francis of Assisi at Prayer” is a quintessential example of Baroque religious painting created by the distinguished artist Bartolome Esteban Murillo between 1645 and 1650. This oil on canvas masterpiece measures 182 by 129 centimeters and is currently housed at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium. Its genre, religious painting, perfectly aligns with the subject matter, depicting a moment of fervent prayer by the revered saint, St. Francis of Assisi.

In the artwork, St. Francis is portrayed in a state of devout prayer, with his gaze intensely directed upwards, perhaps towards a divine presence not visible within the frame. He appears completely absorbed in his spiritual communion, suggesting a moment of revelation or profound contemplation. His hands are clasped, and his facial expression is one of awe or perhaps even ecstatic communication with the divine.

The saint is dressed in the simple, humble garb of the Franciscan order, his brown robe falling in soft folds around his body, cinched at the waist with a knotted rope that serves as a belt. This accentuates his vow of poverty and his devotion to a life of simplicity. Behind him, the background is shrouded in shadows, save for the dramatic beam of light that illuminates St. Francis, creating a stark contrast between light and dark. This chiaroscuro effect emphasizes the Baroque style’s preoccupation with dramatic lighting and emotional intensity.

At his feet, one may notice a skull and other symbols of mortality and penitence, serving as a memento mori—a reminder of the transience of life on earth and the importance of spiritual reflection. The inclusion of these elements furthers the artworks’ religious significance and calls upon the viewer to consider the deeper meanings of faith and the ephemeral nature of human existence.

Overall, Murillo’s “St. Francis of Assisi at Prayer” powerfully conveys themes of piety, devotion, and contemplation, and stands as a testament to the artist’s skill in capturing the spiritual essence of the saint through the Baroque lens.

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