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The Virgin and Four Saints

Venetian Workshop, possibly that of Michele Giambono

Italian (Venetian), active mid-15th century
c. 1450-1460
Tempera painting on fruitwood panel
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

These five panels were originally part of a crucifixion scene and not horizontally arranged as they are now. The saints are recognized as (from left): St. Nicholas of Myra, St. John the Baptist, the Mother of Christ, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Jerome. Renaissance viewers of these panels would have identified each saint by their iconographic signifiers – for example, St. John the Baptist’s rugged clothing and bare feet are almost always associated with him. As a modern viewer, it is much harder to identify the saints simply based on appearance, but the sensitive and almost feminine features of the man to the direct right of Mary would have been recognized at St. John the Evangelist.  The biggest clue in identifying St. Jerome is the book and quill he holds. This saint is most famous for translating the Bible into Latin, so these scholarly symbols are appropriate for him. 

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