Kneeling on Stone: St. Francis at the Base of Monumental Painted Crucifixes in Arezzo and Assisi Open Access

Collier, Laura Isabel Uppercu (2017)

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This paper identifies the role and function of the dramatic space inhabited by St. Francis at the base of the San Francesco Crucifix, in Arezzo, and the Abbess Benedetta Crucifix, in Assisi. By considering the San Francesco Crucifix and the Abbess Benedetta Crucifix as they may have appeared and functioned in their historical display environments, this paper asks how the depicted space at the bases of the San Francesco and Abbess Benedetta Crucifixes is brought into contact with the real space inhabited by the crucifixes.

Narrative is collapsed in images of Saint Francis engaging with crucifixes. Imbedded in any such image is the allusion to the saint's conversion before the San Damiano crucifix, his stigmatization by a divine image of the crucifix, and Saint Francis's construction as alter Christus. The fictive stone base upon which Saint Francis kneels, in the San Francesco and Abbess Benedetta Crucifixes, becomes a liminal space through which the viewer may enter the crucifixion, adopt the pose of Saint Francis, and participate in the veneration of Christ.

In order to address the spatial ambiguities in these two crucifixes, this paper identifies the crucifixes' novel characteristics and places the crucifixes in the context of their broader environments. The supplicant Saint Francis and his location on rocky ground are given special consideration. The San Francesco crucifix is the primary example in this contextualization; however, additional crucifixes are considered as comperanda. Finally, this paper develops a case study of the Abbess Benedetta Crucifix, with special regard for its history and relationship to its church and its city.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Panel Crucifixes 2

Kneeling on Rock 5

Francis as Supplicant 13

Case Study of the Abbess Benedetta Crucifix 17

Conclusion 30

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