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Stigmatised Saint Francis of Assisi in a Glory of Angels

Carracci Agostino

Bologna 1557 - Parma 1602)

This canvas has been in the Borghese collection since 1693. It is generally mentioned as a work by Carracci. It depicts Saint Francis of Assisi, who stands with open arms contemplating the image of a crucifix, which appeared to him in the heavens amid a glory of angels.

The saint is portrayed here with his typical iconographic attributes: the habit, the stigmata, the crown of the Rosary, the book and a skull, a typical memento mori alluding to the transience of life and the vanity of earthly things.

Object details

Fine XVI secolo
oil on canvas
cm 141 x 110

19th-century frame decorated with palmettes



Rome, Borghese Collection, 1693 (Inv. 1693, room I, no. 2; Della Pergola 1955); Inv. 1790, room X, no. 53; Inventario Fidecommissario, 1833, p. 10; purchased by Italian state, 1902.

  • 2009 Kyoto, The National Museum of Modern Art;
  • 2010 Tokyo, Metropolitan Art Museum.
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1964 Renato Massi (doratura della cornice);
  • 2002-2003 Andrea Parri (disinfestazione e consolidamento della cornice);
  • 2009 Matteo Rossi Doria (restauro completo del dipinto).


This painting is mentioned for the first time in the context of the Borghese Collection in 1693, described in the inventory of that year as ‘a painting of St Francis in glory with a skull and five angels […] large-format canvas with a gilded frame. By Carracci’. Without a more precise attribution, the painting was inventoried in 1790 as a work by Agostino, while in 1833 it was ascribed to Annibale. The latter attribution was rejected by Giovanni Piancastelli (1891) and Adolfo Venturi (1893), who both preferred to catalogue it as by an anonymous painter in the Carracci circle. While essentially in agreement with this opinion, Roberto Longhi (1928) leaned toward Annibale; yet his verdict was not shared by either Heinrich Bodmer (1939), who opted for Ludovico, or by Paola della Pergola, who proposed the name of Agostino, as she did for the Extasy of Saint Catherine of Siena (inv. no. 58). According to the last-named critic, the similarities in style, colouring and taste between the Extasy and the painting in question undoubtedly point to the same artist, a view that has been accepted by critics (see Herrmann Fiore 2006).

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 185;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 68;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 182;
  • H. Bodmer, Ludovico Carracci, Burg 1939, p. 142;
  • C. A. Petrucci, Catalogo generale delle Stampe tratte dai rami incisi posseduti dalla Calcografia Nazionale, Roma 1953, pp. 111, 144;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 19, n. 12;
  • P. della Pergola, L’Inventario Borghese del 1693 (I), in “Arte Antica e Moderna”, XXVI, 1964, p. 220;
  • S. E. Ostrow, Agostino Carracci, tesi di dottorato (New York University), New York 1966, p. 434;
  • R. Longhi, Saggi e ricerche 1925-28. Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. La Galleria Borghese, Firenze 1967, p. 335;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 27;
  • M. Gianandrea, 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. 130, n. 29.