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.
Photo 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.
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.”
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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