Art in focus – November 2022
Legend of St Francis: 13
Institution of the Crib at Greccio
Unknown, attributed to Giotto di
In November our thoughts turn to Christmas. So much to do, so little time. If you’re an organised person you will already be getting down those dusty boxes from the attic, sorting out your baubles and preparing the Christmas crib for its annual outing. If you do, you are continuing in a tradition dating back to 1220, when the young Francis of Assisi made the first known presepio, or nativity scene. Here he is in a painting that has been attributed to Giotto. According to the saint’s biographers it was a simple affair; a straw-filled feeding trough for the manger set between a real ox and donkey. The painter gives us a lively scene, with priests and assistants, singing monks and a congregation of amazed onlookers. There are even some women crowding at the door. Francis is on his knees, setting up the scene. His aim is to help people to enter into the story, using their senses and firing their imaginations – to bring home to people just how simple and real this world-changing event would have been.
Art in focus is curated by Meryl Doney
This article was published in the November 2022 edition of Reform