This is the work of an artist considered minor within the Italian Renaissance, because his talent had to compete with that of contemporary geniuses like Masaccio , Piero della Francesca or Mantegna. However, the truth is that the works of Sassetta have an unquestionable quality.
Mystical Marriage of Saint Francis of Sassetta
In this case we show one of the eight panels painted with the tempera technique that make up the altarpiece of the church of San Francesco in Borgo Sansepolcro, in which the author narrates in images the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. A work in which he invested several years of his life, between 1437 and 1444.
We see how he tells us about the trip of this saint to the city of Siena. That trip was accompanied by another monk. Both wearing the habits of the Franciscan order. During that journey they met three women, who were presented to them as the Virtues, specifically Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, the three favorite virtues of the saint and which govern the conventual life of the Franciscans.
The saint approaches the women, and the one who represents Poverty is blessed. We see how Saint Francis wears the stigmata in the hand of the blessing. And we can also observe that both the monk and the woman have bare feet, whichit is also another attribute of this religious order.
In the same table we see two scenes in one. Since on earth we see the meeting between the two monks and the three virtues. And continuously we can observe how the three women take flight towards the heavens. Each of them bears her symbol so that the faithful who observe the painting could easily identify them. Chastity carries a bouquet of flowers, specifically lilies, which is the traditional symbol of purity. While the figure that represents Poverty, also carries a bouquet but very meager. On the other hand, the woman who is Obedience carries as an attribute a yoke on her shoulders, identical to the one that the oxen that pull the plows could carry to obediently till the land. Of the three that take flight in a very harmonic and rhythmic way, the only one that turns and looks at the figure of Saint Francis of Assisi again, is the representative of the virtue of Poverty, which is undoubtedly the most emblematic of the members of the Franciscan faith.
Up to here the story of the religious message of the image, and as for the pictorial, if we compare it with other works of the Quattrocento, the truth is that details can be seen that distance it from some of the advances of the time and that gives a very medieval appearance to the table. Undoubtedly the clearest among them are the issues related to perspective, given the large size of the figures in that landscape, which are gigantic compared to the city gates seen in thebottom right corner.