The Devil’s In The Details

Devil found in detail of Giotto fresco in Italy’s Assisi

ReutersBy Philip Pullella | Reuters

 ROME (Reuters) – Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto
in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, church officials said on Saturday.

Handout of a detail of a fresco by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in AssisiPhoto By REUTERS/Basilica of St Francis in Assisi/Handout/REUTERS
A detail of a fresco by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi is seen
in this picture released on November 5, 2011.

The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century.

The discovery was made by Italian art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis.

Handout of a detail of a fresco by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi

  1. Photo By REUTERS/Basilica of St Francis. A detail of a fresco by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi is seen in this picture

    The figure is difficult to see from the floor of the basilica but emerges clearly in close-up photography.

Sergio Fusetti, the chief restorer of the basilica, said Giotto probably
never wanted the image of the devil to be a main part of the fresco and may have painted it in among the clouds “to have a bit of fun.”

Illustration of the devil, page 577. Legend ha...

The master may have painted it to spite someone he knew by portraying him as a devil in the painting, Fusetti said on the convent’s website.

The artwork in the basilica in the convent where St Francis is buried was last restored after it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1997.


Illustration of the devil, page 577. Legend has it the codex was created by a monk who sold his soul.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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7 thoughts on “The Devil’s In The Details

  1. There are actually two additional “outlined hidden figures” in the painting. Look closely in the lower center of the white clouds in the actual original detail picture and you will see two outlined figures engaged in sexual activity. In addition, look in the lower center portion just under the clouds and above the heads, just under the devil face mentioned in the article, and you will see another outlined devil figure complete with pitchfork.

  2. I personally do Not think that this image was placed within the clouds by the Artist upon Purpose! My reasoning is due to a similar image that appeared within the clouds of one of my paintings titled “The Last Prayer For Mankind” By: Tammi Vaughan. This image was pointed out to me from a Gallery Owner and I did not paint it intentionally among othr images that “Just Appeared such as Christ”. I know that these are messages and do not take for granted that they were placed within the artwork on purpose! Tammi vaughan dot com Christian Art “The Last Prayer For Mankind”.
    Angel Painting!

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  5. Pingback: The Mystic Prophet Francis of Assisi « Earthpages.org

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