Face of Devil Discovered in Giotto Fresco

Face of devil discovered in fresco of Italy's Assisi

WRITTEN BY: Molly Huscroft
Image of St. Francis, painted by Giotto
Image Source: courtesy of Web Gallery of Art
Image of St. Francis, painted by Giotto

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

According to the BBC, Italian art historian, Chiara Frugoni, a medievalist and an expert on St. Francis, found the devil’s profile in the fresco’s clouds, high up in the basilica. The face, with hooked nose and an evil smirk, is hard to see from the ground. The basilica’s chief restorer, Sergio Fusetti, said the devil image may have been a joke by Giotto aimed at someone he had a quarrel with.

The fresco features a series of images of St. Francis’ life and death and dates from the 13th Century. Giotto di Bondone, is considered to be one of the finest Early Renaissance artists. Among his most noted works are a series of frescoes in Padua, frescoes and altarpieces in Santa Croce church in Florence and a painting of the Madonna which is on display in Florence’s Uffizi Galleries.

Millions of tourists have visited the basilica in Assisi since the fresco was painted without noticing the devil’s face. It was only discovered during restoration of the fresco.
Frugoni said it was previously thought that the first artist to conceal a portrait in clouds was Andrea Mantegna in the 15th century. His paint of St. Sebastian, finished in 1460, has a cloud from which a knight on horseback appears.

The Assisi basilica was last restored in 1997, after it suffered severe damage in an earthquake.

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