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Sant'Antonio abate Siena

Sant'Antonio abate

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Artist: Sassetta
Current location: Museo di San Donato - Collezione di Banca MPS
Original location: Chiesa di San Pellegrino alla Sapienza


164 x 48 cm

Together with the stick and the bell, attributes of the Saint's iconography, Antonio Abate holds the circulum precatorium in his left hand, an object that for its shape and function can be assimilated to the rosary of the modern era. As the structure of the wooden support suggests, the table originally constituted the right side panel of a polyptych with several compartments: in the left thickness of the painting are in fact the traces of the holes in which the pegs were inserted which served as connecting elements between the individual panels of the pictorial complex. In consideration of the particularity of the stylistic features, the painting has long been considered by critics as one of the panels of the Polittico dell'Arte della Lana, a masterpiece created by Sassetta around 1426 and still visible in the 18th century Chapel of the Wool Art attached to the ancient Sienese church of San Pellegrino alla Sapienza: according to the accurate description given in the eighteenth century by the abbot Gian Girolamo Carli, the altarpiece - later dismembered and partly dispersed - was part of a panel depicting Sant'Antonio Abate. In recent years this has lost consistency from the moment it was identified, as a sure pendant of Sant'Antonio, a completely analogous table in the format and decoration with punches of the saint's halo, depicting San Nicola di Bari purchased in 1981 by The Louvre Museum in Paris.The painting, in the spirit that is proper to the painter's art, is woven from a dense weave of spatial suggestions: the soft and suffused chiaroscuro, which builds the turned volume of the figure, reflects the wise glimpse of the rosary and the handle of the saint's staff which, in turn, indicate the directions within which the space of the composition develops.

Sant'Antonio abate