The Stigmatization of Saint Francis, and Angel
This folding altarpiece depicts Saint Francis receiving the stigmata on the left and an angel crowning Saints Cecilia and Valerian with floral wreaths on the right. Delphine de Signe, an aristocrat living at the court of Naples in the early 1300s, had sworn a vow of virginity. Despite this, a marriage was arranged between her and Elzéar de Sabran, also a member of the court. Elzéar was a deeply religious youth, and Delphine was able to convert him to chastity by recounting the legends of Cecilia and Valerian, early Christian martyrs who took a vow of celibacy for their spiritual beliefs. Although they suffered from family opposition, Delphine and her husband remained devoted to one another and honored their common vow. Since the unusual subject matter of the virgin saints would have held symbolic import and served as a model for Delphine and Elzéar's own marriage, Delphine may have been the first owner of this diptych. The couple belonged to the lay Third Order of the Franciscans, which explains the depiction of Saint Francis at the left.
Tempera and gold leaf on panel (1330s)
by Unknown Italian, Neapolitan or Avignon School
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