Giovanni Lo Coco, The Apotheosis of Saint Francis, fresco, 1713-1715, Convent of San Biagio, Acireale. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0).
Frescoed in the presbytery of the church of San Biagio in Acireale, the Apotheosis of St Francis is the centrepiece of a complex decorative programme covering the walls of the church and the cloisters with twenty-two scenes from the life of St. Francis. The saint is portrayed in his characteristic brown cassock, which figuratively weighs down his form; but a bright angel, with orange and red fluttering draperies and the complementary green in the wings, assists him from behind to give physical support. Lo Coco effortlessly manages the atmosphere of cloud and sky but the solid form of the saint seems to have less sympathy with the celestial element. The saint is welcomed in heaven by the seated figure of Jesus Christ as well as by a dozen of putti portrayed in the act of adorning the clouds with festive elements. Completed in 1715, Lo Coco’s work was well received by his contemporaries. A nineteenth century account from the local collector Mariano Leonardi Gambino reports that the frescoes were appreciated for the quality of the drawing and the precision of the contours.