St Francis of Assisi

ca. 1650 (made)


Height: 20 cm

A.60-1927 SCP

Statuette, ivory, 'St Francis of Assisi', Indo-Portuguese (Goa), or perhaps Brazil, ca. 1650

Ivory statuette of St. Francis. He is shown standing in the robe of the Franciscan Order, with knotted cord, with his hand raised to show the stigmata, his left arm being largely missing.

This ivory statuette representing St. Francis of Assisi was made in Goa or perhaps Brazil, in about 1650. Formerly catalogued by Longhurst as Spanish or Spanish-American, the figure was subsequently called Indo-Portuguese (Goan). Goa was the second base in India to be established by the Portuguese, having been conquered by Alfonso de Albuquerque (about 1453-1515) during the reign of Manuel I of Portugal initially in 1510, and then reconquered in 1512. Portugal was interested first and foremost in trade, and the discovery of India was motivated by a desire to dominate trade-routes. But the Christian settlers and missionaries were also keen to convert the native populace to Christianity, and religious images in ivory were commissioned to assist in this. Some were exported to Europe, but others evidently remained and were used for evangelical purposes. From the sixteenth century onwards, the four main missionary Orders (Augustinians, Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans) built churches and aimed to convert the inhabitants of India. Despite the control of the Church over subject matter, the iconography of Indian art also permeated Christian ivories.

Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh F.S.A. in 1927

Location: In Storage

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