Saint Francis in Supplication
23.3 cm x 18.1 cm (9 3/16 in. x 7 1/8 in.)
Cerano (Giovanni Battista Crespi)
(Cerano (?), near Novara, Italy, 1575 - 1632, Milan, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Red chalk on cream antique laid paper
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1987
As Saint Francis stands in prayer, the stigmata—wounds Jesus sustained during his crucifixion—appear on his hands, signaling the saint’s purity and willingness to sacrifice for others. His appeal comes after witnessing the violent impact of the Crusades on Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities in North Africa in 1219.
Geography and geology affect the color of red chalk, which can vary from bluish-red to light orange. Chalks found in Italy, Turkey, and North Africa vary in color and composition, and even within regions subtle differences arise from environmental conditions. Geologic heating and cooling of rock and clay, chemical composition, and the presence of water affect iron oxide and may account for the rich color of Cerano’s chalk.