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Saint Ursula
Antonio de Solario

This and the 'Saint Catherine' panel flanked a central panel of the 'Virgin and Child with Saint Joseph' now in the City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol. The 'Virgin and Child' includes a portrait of the donor Paul Withypoll, a member of the Merchant Taylors' Guild who died in 1547. His patron saint was Saint John the Baptist.

On the reverse of the Saint Ursula two putti support a medallion, in which there is a figure of Saint Paul. The arms of the Withypoll family are below.

Key facts
Artist Antonio de Solario
Artist dates probably active 1502 - 1518
Full title Saint Ursula
Group Wing Panels from the Withypoll Triptych
Date made 1514
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 84 x 40 cm
Inscription summary Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG647
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Wing Panels from the Withypoll Triptych

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These two panels once formed the shutters of an altarpiece in three parts, called a triptych. The two female saints flanked a central image signed by the artist (now in Bristol Museums and Art Gallery) which shows the Virgin adoring the infant Christ, who lays on a marble table resembling an altar. Kneeling before Christ is the man who commissioned the altarpiece, a London merchant called Paul Withypool.

Withypool was a powerful and influential person in the 1530s and 1540s; he served as a Member of Parliament from 1529 to 1536, sitting on various commissions. He was trusted as a supporter of the king’s policies. As a merchant, Withypool had connections with his Italian counterparts who, in turn, might have had something to do with Solario’s introduction to English society. Although we can't be sure, it is possible that Solario made this work while living in England.