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Arts feature

From Botticelli to Marvel: why artists love St Francis

Laura Gascoigne on the pulling power of St Francis of Assisi

13 May 2023

9:00 AM

13 May 2023

9:00 AM

‘A small, black, repulsive picture’ is not how most people today would describe Zurbaran’s haunting painting of ‘Saint Francis in Meditation’ (1635-9) in the National Gallery. But that was how one Protestant critic of its acquisition in 1853 described this image of an Italian saint satirised three centuries earlier by the German Lutheran cleric Erasmus Alber in his Koran of the Franciscans.

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