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109 | 2010
Annuaire du Collège de France 2008-2009
Résumé des cours et travaux 109e année
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The Joy of St. Francis: Giovanni Bellini’s Panel of San Francesco del Deserto

Marilyn Lavin
p. 1050-1051

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1The commission for Giovanni Bellini’s painting of St. Francis in the Frick Collection coincided with developments of the Franciscan Observant movement in the Veneto in general, and, in particular, with the refurbishing of the Franciscan convent in the Venetian lagoon on the island of San Francesco del Deserto. My work places the painting in this historical religious context in order to establish the meaning of its exceptional qualities of form and content. Often called a “Stigmatization of St. Francis”, while also frequently proposed as simply representing a landscape, I point out Bellini alluded not to one but to many of St. Francis’s miracles, and he did not portray St. Francis in a landscape “nel deserto”, but depicted the saint as “del deserto”, a physical being whose spiritual force gives shape to the natural forms that surround him. The saint shows his joy in the knowledge of his own salvation, delivered to him directly from Jesus in a vision. He himself says, according to one account of the period just before his death, that as a result of this joyful news, he must “sing, and keep on singing”. Bellini represents St. Francis looking straight up to heaven, with his mouth opened in song.

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Cours et travaux du Collège de France. Annuaire 109e année, Collège de France, Paris, mars 2010, p. 1050-1051. ISBN 978-2-7226-0083-6

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Marilyn Lavin, « The Joy of St. Francis: Giovanni Bellini’s Panel of San Francesco del Deserto », L’annuaire du Collège de France [En ligne], 109 | 2010, mis en ligne le 27 octobre 2014, consulté le 24 avril 2018. URL :

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Marilyn Lavin

Professeur émérite, université de Princeton (États-Unis)

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Droits d’auteur

Collège de France

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