Málaga School, After Pedro de Mena, Saint Francis of Assisi, after 1663

Standing, scultpural figure of cloaked and hooded man

Málaga School (Spanish, late 17th–18th century)

After Pedro de Mena (1628–1688)

Saint Francis of Assisi

after 1663

Polychromed wood, bone/ivory teeth, glass eyes, and painted cord

31 x 11 1/8 x 8 3/4 in. (79 x 28 x 22 cm)

Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum purchase, Meadows Museum Acquisition Fund, MM.90.05

Hear a reading of the object label (1:12 minutes)

Object Label

This arresting sculpture recalls a legendary event in the life or hagiography of Saint Francis, the gentle, thirteenth-century ascetic and influential monastic reformer. At some point after the saint’s death, a legend arose that his body remained uncorrupted in its tomb in the crypt of his church at Assisi. An eyewitness in the fifteenth-century saw the saint’s body standing upright on the sarcophagus, with hands clasped over the chest and open eyes raised to heaven. This figure, with its irregular, harrowed features, parted lips, and large, upturned eyes, visualizes Francis’s miraculous triumph over death with a startling intensity.

The Meadows sculpture closely resembles a famous figure of Saint Francis that was made for Toledo Cathedral by the seventeenth-century Castilian sculptor Pedro de Mena. Characteristic of Spanish polychromed sculpture, the incorporation of a variety of materials in this work, including ivory or bone for the teeth, colored glass for the eyes, and a painted cord that was added later with three knots (representing the wearer’s vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience), give the work a naturalistic quality.