The Virgin and Child Appearing to Saint Francis of Assisi
Francesco Vanni, Italian, The Virgin and Child Appearing to Saint Francis of Assisi, 1599, Oil on canvas; 266.1 x 182.9 cm (104 11/16 x 72 inches), Corporate Membership Fund 57.227
Painted by leading Sienese artist Francesco Vanni, The Virgin and Child Appearing to Saint Francis of Assisi shows the compassionate Saint Francis bathed in light and embracing the Infant Jesus. Oblivious to this miracle, his older companion has fallen asleep while meditating on a skull, the symbol of mortality. In 1599, Cardinal Buonviso Buonvisi offered the painting to the monastery of the Cordeliers de l’Observance in Lyon, France. It originally hung in the monastery’s church in the handsome Chapelle des Lucquois, reputedly designed by Michelangelo (1475 - 1564). The chapel was endowed by the Buonvisi family and other merchant bankers from the Italian city of Lucca, who for generations contributed to Lyon’s eminence as a center of trade.