Saint Francis and the Poor Knight, and Francis's Vision

This painting is one of seven panels that come from the back of a large two-sided polyptych. It was made for the high altar of San Francesco, Borgo Sansepolcro and depicts the life of Saint Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order, who died in 1226.

The altarpiece was commissioned in 1437 and was installed in 1444. The front, showing the Virgin and Child with saints, would have been seen by the congregation, while the back, with Saint Francis in Glory, would have been seen by the friars in the choir. The eight scenes from the Life of Saint Francis which accompanied this image would also only have been seen by the friars.

All but two of the scenes ('The Wolf of Gubbio' and 'The Granting of the Indulgence of the Portiuncula') of the San Sepolcro altarpiece are based on Saint Bonaventure's life of Saint Francis, the 'Legenda Maior'.

Key facts

Artist dates
active by 1427; died 1450
Full title
Saint Francis meets a Knight Poorer than Himself and Saint Francis's Vision of the Founding of the Franciscan Order
Date made
Medium and support
Egg tempera on poplar
87 x 52.5 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought with contributions from the Art Fund, Benjamin Guinness and Lord Bearsted, 1934
Inventory number
Location in Gallery

Other paintings in the group: San Sepolcro Altarpiece

Sassetta: 'The Wolf of Gubbio'
Sassetta: 'The Funeral of Saint Francis'