The idea for the La Verna painting came after realising how close it was to where I live and a quick visit there one Sunday afternoon. I’ve always loved the idea of painting St Francis’ sanctuary at La Verna ever since I saw Ghirlandiao’s interpretation at art college, many years ago.
The rocky outcrop lends itself perfectly to the current series of pictures I am working on so I decided to give the image my own spin. The references for this were Ghirlandaio’s format as the starting point and Gozzoli’s style for drawing the cliffs and distinctive trees and bushes.
Gozzoli’s cliffs look like great wooden blocks with chunks chiseled out of them. This gives the painting a real sculptural quality. His trees and vegetation also have a monumental quality to them.
These tall, straight trunked trees covering the slopes of the mountain were favoured by the Genoan ship builders who prized them for masts. Their size and height were perfect and today you can still see why they travelled so far to acquire these pieces of wood.
The surrounding hillside is now a dedicated park and visitors can walk around the site, visiting the hermitage and the summit of the mountain appreciating natures beauty. Weaving your way through the trees, you get the feeling that St Francis is still out there watching and enjoying the tranquility of the woods.
Follow Part Two – The Idea Behind Painting La Verna, the design.