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Saint Andrew
Carlo Crivelli
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This bearded saint is one of four in the upper tier of a polyptych (a multi-panelled altarpiece) which Crivelli painted in 1476 for the high altar of the Dominican Church in Ascoli Piceno in the Italian Marche. He is Saint Andrew, the first Apostle, and a particular favourite of the Dominican Order as a preacher and a converter of non-Christians. Crivelli has shown him in his usual guise as an old man, clasping a cross and a Gospel book.

In a masterly display of foreshortening – a visual trick of distorting objects so that they seem to recede into the picture – Crivelli has painted the cross and the fluttering pages of the book at a dramatically acute angle. A love of realistic detail – the nails in the cross, the wrinkled edges of the parchment pages, the crow’s feet around the saint’s eyes – is typical of Crivelli.

Key facts
Artist Carlo Crivelli
Artist dates about 1430/5 - about 1494
Full title Saint Andrew
Group The Demidoff Altarpiece
Date made 1476
Medium and support Tempera on poplar
Dimensions 61 x 40 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1868
Inventory number NG788.7
Location in Gallery Room 57
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The Demidoff Altarpiece

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Crivelli painted two altarpieces for the small church of San Domenico, in the town of Ascoli Piceno in the Italian Marche. Their history is complex and intertwined. A large, double-tiered polyptych (a multi-panelled altarpiece) sat on the high altar, while a smaller altarpiece was in a side chapel.

In the nineteenth century parts of both altarpieces were sold to a Russian prince, Anatole Demidoff, who mounted them in a grand frame to make a three-tiered altarpiece for the chapel of his villa in Florence. The whole complex is now known as the Demidoff Altarpiece.

The National Gallery bought the Demidoff Altarpiece in 1868, and in 1961 the panels from the smaller polyptych were removed. They are now displayed separately.

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