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Head of a Tonsured, Bearded Saint
Domenico Veneziano
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This is a fragment of a wall-painting made using the fresco technique (painting directly onto wet plaster). It comes from a ’street tabernacle‘ – an outdoor religious painting – that showed the Virgin and Child surrounded by two saints.

It is the head of one of the saints. We can’t identify him from his head alone, but his darkly coloured robes and tonsure (the central section of his hair is shaved – a sign of devotion among members of religious orders) suggest he was a friar, a follower of either Saint Benedict or Saint Augustine.

The tabernacle was painted on the first floor exterior wall of a house in Florence so that it would have been visible to passersby.

Key facts
Artist Domenico Veneziano
Artist dates active 1438; died 1461
Full title Head of a Tonsured, Bearded Saint
Group Carnesecchi Tabernacle
Date made about 1440-4
Medium and support Fresco, transferred to tile
Dimensions 45 x 35.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1867
Inventory number NG767
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Carnesecchi Tabernacle

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These three fragments painted in fresco (painting directly onto wet plaster) come from the outside of a house in Florence. They were removed in the mid-nineteenth century. They were part of a street tabernacle, a large outdoor altarpiece, painted high on a wall. It included a pair of full-length standing saints – only the heads remain – that would have surrounded the central image of the Virgin and Child enthroned.

This painting was on a house built by a member of the Carnesecchi family, who owned several properties in the area; the street was called the Canto de' Carnesecchi. This was a very visible spot on the route of religious processions in the city.

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