The Stigmatization of St. Francis (1507) by Albrecht Altdorfer

The Stigmatization of St. Francis - Albrecht Altdorfer - 1507

Artwork Information

TitleThe Stigmatization of St. Francis
ArtistAlbrecht Altdorfer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationGemaldegalerie, Berlin, Germany
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About The Stigmatization of St. Francis

“The Stigmatization of St. Francis,” a work by Albrecht Altdorfer created in 1507, epitomizes the Northern Renaissance art movement. This religious painting is a representation of a renowned moment in Christian narrative and belongs to the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin, Germany. It embodies the spiritual and intimate elements characteristic of the time, as well as the Northern Renaissance’s intricate attention to natural detail.

The artwork depicts St. Francis of Assisi, a critical figure in Christian hagiography, experiencing the miraculous event of stigmatization. He is shown in a state of divine ecstasy or prayer, with his gaze directed heavenward and his hands extended outward, against a densely wooded landscape. The scene is composed with a remarkable attention to the natural environment, a hallmark of Altdorfer’s work. The trees and distant mountains are rendered with meticulous care, capturing the splendor of the natural world which was believed to reflect the greatness of the creator. The inclusion of rich detail in the flora and terrain gives the painting a depth that enhances the spiritual experience being depicted.

The expression on St. Francis’s face is one of profound spiritual fervor, suggesting his complete devotion and the gravity of the moment. Rays of light that symbolize the divine presence are seen descending towards him, and they appear to be bestowing the stigmata upon him, mirroring the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion on his body. The color palette is rich yet subdued, allowing for a focus on the dramatic interplay between light and shadow, further emphasizing the miraculous event taking place. The treatment of light, detailed landscapes, and devotional subject matter all reflect the aesthetics and religious atmosphere of the Northern Renaissance, showcasing Altdorfer’s capacity to blend the divine with the natural world in a manner that speaks to both the eyes and the spirit.

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