Carlo Crivelli (VENICE, 1430/1435 - FABRIANO (?), 1495/1500) - inv. 1584
This small panel, which bears signs of an old frame along its edges, is in a good condition. Despite its size, it shows a complex scene. The background opens on the left into a landscape with a castle, visible beyond the arch. A bare tree and a porphyry column allude to death and to the flagellation. Various instruments of the passion are leaning against the column: others – nails, crown of thorns and whips – are hanging on the arm of the cross. The Redeemer is standing on a gold piece of fabric, probably velvet, which also acts as a backdrop. He is holding the wound in his ribcage open so that the blood can trickle out and be collected in Francis’ golden chalice. Kneeling and with his face raised towards Christ, the saint has been depicted in a natural pose, slightly bent and with one foot pointed against the floor. A brick wall with patches of grass closes the space on the right.
The theme of the collection of Christ’s blood is very rare in the fifteenth century, although other renowned examples can be found in the Veneto region, Crivelli’s native land. It was probably linked to a revival of the cult of the sacred blood, supported by some mendicant orders; maybe the person who commissioned the painting was a Franciscan friar, since the presence of the patron saint. The many references in the picture alluding to martyrdom, to death and to the Resurrection of Christ could confirm this hypothesis. From the artist’s late production, this work was probably for private devotion.