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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


These ten panels once made up a polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) painted by Giorgio Schiavone, probably between 1456 and 1461. They were perhaps originally made for the chapel of the Frigimelina family in the church of San Niccolò in Padua.

In the fifteenth century the chapel may have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as she appears in the middle with saints on either side. We don‘t know exactly how the panels were arranged, but the full-length saints would have been in the bottom layer with the half-length figures above; this was a very popular format for Italian polyptychs. The altarpiece may well have had an elaborate frame, now missing.

The artist’s real name was Juraj Čulinović. Schiavone means ’Slavonian': he came from Dalmatia (in modern-day Croatia) but trained in Squarcione’s workshop in Padua in the late 1450s, when these panels were painted.