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The Description of the Sacred Mountain of La Verna: Jacopo Ligozzi’s Innovative Guide to a Franciscan Sanctuary in Context

Ginger Hammer, assistant curator, old master prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art. Descrizione del Sacro Monte della Vernia is a rare and unusual illustrated volume about the Franciscan Sanctuary of La Verna, depicting the monastery and dramatic rocky terrain where Francis of Assisi (1181/1182–1226) received the stigmata nearly 400 years earlier. Jacopo Ligozzi (1547–1627), a celebrated draftsman and then head of the Academy of Drawing in Florence, created 22 preparatory drawings in 1608 that were subsequently etched or engraved into full-page plates for the volume. It is the centerpiece of the exhibition Heavenly Earth: Images of Saint Francis at La Verna on view at the National Gallery of Art through July 8, 2018. In this lecture held on June 24, 2018, Ginger Hammer expands on the art-historical context of traditional representations of Saint Francis at La Verna and the innovations in Franciscan subject matter characteristic of the Counter-Reformation.