Despite containing very similar content, the two artworks are actually sized quite differently. This piece from Philadelphia is much smaller, just around 13cm by 15cm approximately. It is quite likely that both pieces were owned by the same individual initially, as suggested by Anselm Adornes of Bruges's will from around 1470. This would have been three decades after they were produced and so he may well have purchased them directly from the artist himself, perhaps as part of an agreed commission. Van Eyck enjoyed a considerable following, never being short of new patrons who were interested in hiring his services as his own artistic reputation spread far and wide. It was perhaps his level of realism that excited people the most, which was partly due to his innovations in the techniques of oil painting that helped to mark him out as a highly influential artist.
This famous tale involves Saint Francis of Assisi kneeling by a rock as he is given the stigmata of the crucified Christ on the surface of his hands and feet. Behind the two figures is a stunning backdrop which allows the artist to show off his renowned attention to detail. There is a small cityscape besides a river as well as some rocky mountains further to the left. The level of detail used by Van Eyck left many astounded and he also made strong efforts to be accurate in how he filled his backgrounds, not content with simply adding items from his imagination that seemed aesthetically pleasing. His tiled floors and mirrors, for example, would be researched initially in order to accurately match styles used at the time.
The alternative version of St Francis Receiving the Stigmata is proudly owned by the the Sabauda Gallery in Turin, Italy. Those fortunate enough to see the slightly clearer, brighter version in Philadelphia will also be presented with a fine selection of work from many other notable artists, including the likes of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne as well as also an area devoted to American artists as well. In all, the collection numbers into the many tens of thousands of items and goes far beyond oil painting, offering something for pretty much any taste. This helps the institution to continue to draw in crowds in their many thousands each and every year, constantly adding to the collection through private purchases and generous donations on an annual basis.