Tonight I would like to ask you to go to this address: http://collections.frick.org/CUS.18.zoomobject._360$8054*436562.
It is St. Francis in the desert, by Giovanni Bellini from the Frick Collection, NYC. This painting has been one of my favorites since I came to love art. I thought I might share a few observations. One quality of Bellini I appreciate so much is his love of nature. This is one of the first things that strikes me about this work in particular. Notice the detail and the attention to the individuality of each leaf on the trellis, the character of the rock, the pebbles, the tree, the animals, sky, architecture, landscape, all of it with so much affection! It reminds me that passion, desire, authentic love sustain art and give birth to art (which are born from contemplation, reflection). The art of Bellini is a rejoicing in the union of God and man. Look at St.Francis. He is overcome. He went out to seek the Lord and yet God found him. He is being visited by the Lord out in the wilderness. Isn't it interesting that he has St.Francis having this union with the Lord outside his cell.
Bellini is painting the life of Francis and not without his death. The skull on his desk as if it were a model for a still life. And the scriptures, the word. It was almost as if St.Francis was reading the word and he was made flesh before his eyes.
I hope you sit with this piece and love it as I do.