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Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d'Alemagna, Saints Peter and Jerome

Key facts
Full title Saints Peter and Jerome
Artist Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d'Alemagna
Artist dates probably active 1440; died 1476/84; died 1449/50
Series Panels from an Altarpiece
Date made about 1440-6
Medium and support Tempera on poplar
Dimensions 140.3 × 45.7 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1867
Inventory number NG768
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saints Peter and Jerome
Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d'Alemagna

Two saints – Peter and Jerome – stand on an extravagantly carved stone pedestal. They once formed the left wing of a triptych (an altarpiece in three parts) painted by Antonio Vivarini and his brother-in-law, Giovanni d‘Alemagna, probably in the mid-1440s.

The saints’ names have been painted as if carved into the pedestal and they hold their attributes, the symbols traditionally associated with them. Peter has the keys to the kingdom of heaven, while Jerome has a book: he translated the Bible into Latin.

The bright colours of the saints' robes, the decorative details of their clothes and setting, and the three-dimensional gilding all contribute to the rich effect of this painting – which would doubtless have been enhanced by the original gilded frame.

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Panels from an Altarpiece


These two pairs of saints were originally the side panels for an altarpiece painted by the Vivarinis, a Venetian family of artists working in the second half of the fifteenth century. The central panel, showing the Virgin and Child enthroned, is now in the Museo di San Tommaso Becket Martire in Padua, although the altarpiece was made for the church of San Moisè in Venice.

The saints are identified by inscriptions and by their attributes – symbolic objects associated with them. They are Saints Peter, Jerome, Francis and Mark. They stand on a pedestal, a detail common in sculpture but in Venetian painting used only by the Vivarinis.

Although the altar was a triptych (a painting in three parts) with panels set in a gilded frame, the ornately shaped stone pedestal would have run along all three panels, and the balustrade behind them connected with the Virgin’s throne – the figures seem to exist in the same space.