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Saint Francis of Assisi

Carracci Annibale

(Bologna 1560 - Rome 1609)

The work can be identified with the work cited in the inventory confiscated from Cavalier d’Arpino in 1607. The painting’s iconography is particularly interesting for its treatment of the adoration of the Crucifix. Its execution was probably influenced by Cardinal Paleotti, in Bologna, the author of the Discourse on sacred and profane images. The subject’s conformity to models and images widely used in Bologna, and the poorer pictorial quality of the canvas, prevent the painting from being ascribed to Annibale Carracci’s catalogue.

Object details

1585-1586 circa
oil on canvas
cm 46 x 35

Nineteenth-century frame decorated with palmettes


(?) Rome, collection of Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavalier d’Arpino, 1607 (Inv. 1607, no. 86; Della Pergola 1955); (?) Rome, collection of Scipione Borghese, 1607; Inv. 1790, room IV, no. 4; Inventario Fidecommissario, 1833, p. 8; purchased by the Italian State, 1902

  • 2009 Kyoto, The National Museum of Modern Art;
  • 2010 Tokyo, Metropolitan Art Museum.
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 2000 Enea (indagini diagnostiche)
  • 2002-2003 Andrea Parri (restauro della cornice)
  • 2009 Cecilia Bernardini (restauro completo della tela e della cornice)


Generically listed as a work by the Carracci in all the Galleria’s eighteenth-century inventories, this painting was described as a ‘small mediocre painting on canvas of St Francis with a Christ’ that belonged to the Cavalier d’Arpino, from whom it was sequestered by the tax officials of Paul V in 1607. Attributed in the 1790 inventory to Ludovico Carracci and considered by Roberto Longhi (1928) to have been a workshop painting made after 1600, the work was published by Paola della Pergola in the catalogue of the Galleria Borghese’s paintings (1955) as by Annibale Carracci, an attribution the scholar had unearthed in the fideicommissary lists of 1833. The attribution was confirmed by Donald Posner (1979), who dated the painting to 1585-1586, noting various stylistic affinities with other works by the artist, in particular the figure of St Francis in the Baptism of Christ (Bologna, San Gregorio), the St Francis in the collection of the Musei Capitolini and the Portrait of Giacomo Filippo Turrini (Oxford, Christ Church). 

There is a similar version, attributed to the Emilian School, in Naples at the Museo di Capodimonte (inv. 84128), while a copy of the painting, formerly in the Yarborough Collection and attributed to Annibale, was sold at a Christie’s auction in 1929 (see Posner 1979, p. 15).

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 184;
  • A. Venturi, II Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 149;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, pp. 136, 202;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 22, n. 19;
  • R. Longhi, Saggi e ricerche 1925-28. Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. La Galleria Borghese, Firenze 1967, pp. 317-346;
  • D. Posner, Annibale Carracci. A Study in the Reform of Italian Painting around 1590, New York 1971, I, p. 42; II, pp. 14-15, n. 28;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, in Caravaggio: la luce nella pittura lombarda, catalogo della mostra (Bergamo, Accademia Carrara, 2000), a cura di C. Strinati, Milano 2000, p. 70;
  • L. Bartoni, in Galleria Borghese. The Splendid Collection of a Noble Family, catalogo della mostra (Kyoto, The National Museum of Modern Art, 2009; Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 2010), a cura di C.M. Strinati, A. Mastroianni, F. Papi, Kyoto 2009, p. 122, n. 25.