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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hidden devil found in Giotto's painting in Basilica of St. Francis

giotto fresco of st. francis of assisi with the devil
Giotto's painting in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Art restorers in Rome have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos made by Giotto in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Rome, Church officials said on Saturday.

The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St. Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century.

The discovery was made by art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St. Francis.

The figure is difficult to spot from the floor of the basilica but it emerges clearly in close-up photography.

Sergio Fusetti, the chief restorer of the basilica said, Giotto probably never wanted the image of the devil to be a main part of the fresco and may have painted it in among the clouds "to have a bit of fun."

The master may have painted it to spite someone he knew by portraying him as a devil in the painting, Fusetti said.

It is also worth noting that this is not the first time an artist had mock the Roman Catholic Church through an artwork. There had been others including the cross of Christ in which St. Francis was said to have seen his first miracle.

The artwork in the basilica in the convent where St. Francis is buried was last restored after it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1997.


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