The crossing vaults of the Lower Church of the Basilica of San Francesco at Assisi, known as the Vele, were frescoed by Giotto and his workshop c.1 310-15 with scenes of St Francis in Glory and three densely-populated tableaux allegorizing the principal vows of the Franciscan Rule: Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. The paper re-examines some of the complex and enigmatic imagery in search of the sources, meanings and functions of the frescoes in their key position above the high altar and the tomb of St Francis. It argues that the Vele can offer an insight into the process of artistic invention in the early Trecento, as a case study in the creative collaboration of client and painter.
John Renner took his MA in Art History at Birkbeck and his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where he is an Associate Lecturer. His research and publications focus on the art and patronage of the Franciscan Order in Italy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
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