St Francis and St Elizabeth Piero della Francesca Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Italian painter, Piero della Francesca painted the work we know as St Francis and St Elizabeth. The painting forms a section of the Polyptych of Perugia. The work is on view in the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria in Perugia, Italy.

In 1460, Piero Della Francesca created the work titled St Francis and St Elizabeth. It's an oil and tempera on wood painting that measures 124cm x 64cm. The work is a religious painting of St Francis of Assisi and St Elizabeth of Hungary. Both are wearing religious robes of the 13th century. Piero's use of perspective in the painting has the saints appear almost lifelike as they stand in the archways. The dark colours of their robes contrast against the bright background. St Elizabeth appears in the painting to be holding something, possibly food, in her robes. St Francis has a religious cross in his belt. Thanks to Piero’s colour palette and techniques, each appears almost real and saintly looking. The halo above their heads also helps reinforce the look of serenity.

The painting of St Francis and St Elizabeth is one of a series of paintings that form the Polyptych of Perugia. The work was for the Franciscan convent of Sant'Antonio da Padova in Perugia. Started in around 1460, it took roughly ten years to complete. At the centre of the polyptych is the Virgin seated with the Child. The panels on either side of this are of saints. On the left is St Anthony of Padua and John the Baptist. The panel on the right shows St Francis and St Elizabeth. Other saints and religious images surround the central area. The polyptych now resides in Perugia’s, Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria where it has been since 1921.

Piero Della Francesca was not just a painter. He was also a mathematician and geometer. With this know-how, he creates geometric forms and perspective in his works. It gives the figures in his works a lifelike appearance. It was not until the end of the 19th century when his works would inspire artists with such techniques and realism. Artists like Cezanne, Balthus, Seurat and De Chirico drew inspiration from his use of mathematics and perspective in his paintings.