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Giorgio Schiavone, Saint Anthony of Padua

Key facts
Full title Saint Anthony of Padua
Artist Giorgio Schiavone
Artist dates 1436/7 - 1504
Series S. Niccolò Altarpiece, Padua
Date made probably 1456-61
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 66 × 23 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG630.3
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint Anthony of Padua
Giorgio Schiavone

A friar stands on a marble plinth, holding a lily and a book. This is a thirteenth-century saint, Antony of Padua. He wears the grey habit of the Observants, a strict, reformed branch of the Franciscans, an order of friars founded by Saint Francis of Assisi.

The book symbolises Saint Anthony’s learning – he was renowned both as a preacher and a university lecturer – and the lily his chastity. His bare toes peep out from under his robe – Franciscans wore sandals in both summer and winter – and one juts out over the edge of the plinth, linking the sacred space of the altarpiece with the real space of the viewer.

He once stood at the left side of a large polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) painted by Giorgio Schiavone, possibly for the church of San Niccolò in Padua. Other parts of the altarpiece are also in the National Gallery’s collection.

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S. Niccolò Altarpiece, Padua


This two-tier altarpiece was painted between about 1456 and 1461 for the funerary chapel of the wealthy Roberti family in the church of San Nicolò in Padua. Its altar was dedicated to the Franciscan missionary Bernardino of Siena, seen among the full-length saints in the lower tier. He was canonised in 1450, shortly before Giovanni de Roberti left funds in his will for the chapel’s construction.

Other saints were chosen for their special significance for members of the Roberti family. John the Baptist was the name saint of Giovanni de Roberti. His sons Antonio and Piero were represented by Anthony of Padua and Peter Martyr, who were also the patron saints of Padua. The altarpiece must have had an elaborate original frame, which has been lost.

The illusory label attached to the base of the Virgin’s throne in the centre panel identifies the altarpiece as the work of Giorgio Schiavone, a disciple of Francesco Squarcione. ‘Schiavone’ means ‘the Slavonian’, referring to the fact that the artist came from Dalmatia (in modern-day Croatia).