ST. FRANCIS of ASSISI
DRAWING by DANIEL MITSUI
This is an ink drawing on a 7" × 7" piece of calfskin vellum. I drew it using calligraphers’ inks applied with brushes and metal-tipped dip pens.
The original was created on private commission.
This illustrates an incident early in the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The saint’s father a, wealthy cloth merchant, was disturbed by his odd behavior and his giving away the family’s money. He appealed to the bishop of Assisi to discipline his son. According to Thomas of Celano:
When he had been led before the bishop, Francis neither delayed nor explained himself, but simply stripped off his clothes and threw them aside, giving them back to his father. He did not even keep his trousers, but stood there in front of everyone completely naked. The bishop, sensing his intention and admiring his constancy, rose and wrapped his arms around Francis, covering him with his own robe. He saw clearly that Francis was divinely inspired and that his action contained a mystery. Thus he became Francis’s helper, cherishing and comforting him.
In this drawing, I followed closely the composition of one of the most famous depictions of the event, a fresco attributed to Giotto. The pose of the saint, the bishop and the hand of God the Father giving benediction are similar to the fresco.
I wanted the entire drawing to reflect the words of the Sermon on the Mount that so strongly resonate in the life of St. Francis:
Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?... And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.... Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.
In reference to this, I decorated the border of the drawing and the saint’s halo, with ornament resembling a millefleur tapestry, filled with birds and flowers. A portion of the Sermon appears decorating the background architecture in a blackletter script. The saint’s father and his companions are dressed in fanciful turbans and robes with bold colors and patterns, suggesting the wealth of Solomon.
All of the decorative elements in theis drawing - the damask patterns, the pseudo-Arabic trims, the Gothic tracery, the lettering and the tile - I designed myself.
An open-edition giclée print of this drawing is available for $53. You may use the button below to pay via PayPal, debit card or credit card. Be sure to confirm the shipping address.
Please note that the original drawing was made on calfskin vellum, which is not perfectly white, flat or homogenous. Natural variations in the color and thickness of the calfskin show up in the giclée print, especially in the outer borders. These are not smudges or printing errors, but part of the artwork itself.
See this page for additional ordering instructions and general information. If you want to pay via a check or money order, please e-mail me at danmitsui [at] hotmail [dot] com.