Antonio da Venezia

Saint Bartholomew

Saint Bartholomew by Antonio da Venezia

Artwork Detail

This small painting is the oldest in the Gallery's collection, one of four that originally surrounded a Madonna and Child, now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. St Bartholomew, one of the Twelve Apostles, seems a serene and patriarchal figure despite having suffered a gruesome martyrdom - he is said to have been flayed alive and then beheaded, and his emblem in art is a flaying knife. Unsurprisingly, Bartholomew became the patron saint of tanners and all workers with leather, including dyers, shoemakers and bookbinders. Veneziano's craftsmanship is evident in all aspects of the painting. The wooden panel has been prepared first with gesso, a mixture of plaster of Paris and rabbit's-foot glue, and scraped to an ivory smoothness. Gold leaf has been applied to the background representing Paradise and some details, like the halo, have been incised. The painting is in tempera - coloured pigment in a medium of egg yolk and water, requiring great certainty of purpose since the paint is not easy to handle and the colours are few and difficult to blend. Meticulous rendering of the head and hands demonstrates a careful observation of nature but the clothing is decorative, rather than descriptive of the body beneath. In its original altarpiece setting, and illuminated by flickering candlelight, the work would have exerted a powerful influence on those meditating on St Bartholomew's faith and suffering. (from The Guide, 2001)

Saint Bartholomew
Antonio da Venezia
Production date
circa 1376
gesso and tempera on panel
460 x 312 x 20 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased with assistance from the National Art Collection Fund and the Watson Bequest, 1965
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
On display

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