Devil found in the details of a Giotto fresco in Italy’s Assisi

November 6, 2011

(Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, showing a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis. Picture released on November 5, 2011. REUTERS/Basilica of St Francis in Assisi/Handout)

Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, church officials said on Saturday.

The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century.

The discovery was made by Italian art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis.

The figure is difficult to see from the floor of the basilica but emerges clearly in close-up photography.

Sergio Fusetti, the chief restorer of the basilica, said Giotto probably never wanted the image of the devil to be a main part of the fresco and may have painted it in among the clouds “to have a bit of fun.”

The master may have painted it to spite someone he knew by portraying him as a devil in the painting, Fusetti said on the convent’s website.

The artwork in the basilica in the convent where St Francis is buried was last restored after it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1997.

via Devil found in detail of Giotto fresco in Italy’s Assisi | Reuters.

3 comments

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Why is it assumed to be a devil? We are to operate under this assumption because that is what the people who found it think it to be and that would make the work somehow subversive?

Posted by mgeorge09 | Report as abusive

There are 2. I will show you if you need me to.

Posted by mankp | Report as abusive

As it is usual in art history, the interpretation is questionable, although the observation in itself is interesting.
I wish to make a point though on why American or English reports, even from such renowned sources as Reuters (yet I may name almost any major newspaper in the UK or the USA), constantly mis-spell Italian Family names. The main person in your report is the historian who revealed the hidden head. She is a well-known professor, the Author of a number of important historical essays, and her name is Chiara Frugoni (final “i”, not “e”). I am an Italian who daily reads both Italian and English or American papers, and I can testify that this kind of mistake is quite rare in our papers, when foreign characters are concerned.

Posted by alfonsofrigerio | Report as abusive