Altar of St Louis of Toulouse (Saint Louis of Toulouse Crowning His Brother Robert of Anjou)
Artist: Simone Martini; Tempera on panel; Size: 200x138cm; Predella: 56x38 cm (each scene);
Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples.
The painting work, dated to 1317, constitutes a genuine political manifesto of the House of Anjou. On the death of Charles II, the king of Sicily, in 1296, his son Louis had renounced the crown of Naples in favor of his brother Robert, and had taken vows, entering the Franciscan order. Simone Martiniwas committed to paint this painting as an act of propaganda, translates Robert of Anjou's political conception into visual terms: the saint, seated on a throne, receives the heavenly crown from angels. The pluvial, miter and crosier recall his Episcopal rank, the habit his membership of the order of St. Francis. On his breast, however, is set a large brooch with the Anjou crest, underlining the fact that he belongs to the royal family of Naples. With one hand Louis places the crown on the head of his kneeling brother: thus we are seeing a double coronation, of the bishop saint by God, and of Robert by the saint. The principal episodes in the saint's life are depicted in the predella: his acceptance of the appointment as bishop of Toulouse in exchange for the possibility of entering the Franciscan order, the repetition of his vows in public, Louis serving the poor at table, his funeral and a miracle worked after his death.
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