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Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata

Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish (active Bruges), c. 1395 - 1441

Made in Netherlands (historical name, 15th-16th century), Europe


Oil on vellum on panel

5 × 5 3/4 inches (12.7 × 14.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 319, European Art 1100-1500, third floor (Park Family Gallery)

Accession Number:
Cat. 314

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    During a forty-day fast in the wilderness, Francis of Assisi had a vision in which he received the wounds of the crucified Christ, who here appears held aloft by a seraph. Although Jan van Eyck positioned the scene in the rocky mountain of the legend, in a bravura display of his microscopic technique, he included a bustling Netherlandish city in the distance. This is one of two nearly identical versions of the picture (the other being in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin). One of them or a copy was owned by the painter Joan Reixac of Valencia (see Philadelphia Museum of Art, inv. 203), where it had a profound effect on local artists. Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 95.

  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Jan van Eyck was the most celebrated painter in Northern Europe during the fifteenth century, widely hailed for his nearly miraculous ability to depict observed reality with a refinement verging on the microscopic. The effect of such intense realism was to create pictures that seemed at once very sharp yet very far away. Here Saint Francis is receiving on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet the same wounds suffered by the crucified Christ, who appears as an image held aloft by an angel. The saint's stigmata would never heal and became for many the living proof of his holiness. Although Van Eyck's representation of this legend follows the original Franciscan text quite literally, his one departure from earlier, chiefly Italian depictions is the inclusion of a great, panoramic landscape with a distant view of a bustling city. The scene is thus presented as a miracle being witnessed within the context of the whole sweep of nature and human life, which may seem magically beautiful but is in fact quite oblivious to the sacred action in the foreground. Joseph J. Rishel, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 164.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.