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Saint Bonaventure
Giovanni Antonio Pordenone
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This panel of Saint Bonaventure and one of Saint Louis of Toulouse, also in the National Gallery’s collection, are part of a series of nine paintings by Pordenone from a ceiling in the Scuola di S. Francesco ai Frari at Venice. The original arrangement showed the Four Evangelists on square panels in the corners, with Saints Bonaventure, Louis, Bernardino and Anthony of Padua in separate octagonal compartments around a central full length image of Saint Francis receiving the stigmata. The central panel of Saint Francis is lost but the Four Evangelists, Saint Bernardino and Saint Anthony are now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.

This panel shows Saint Bonaventure pointing up, originally towards the central image of Saint Francis; his red cardinal’s hat hangs on the wall behind him. He was born in Umbria and entered the Franciscan Order in 1243. His leadership made the Franciscans the most prominent order in the Catholic Church until the coming of the Jesuits. He was canonised in 1482.

Key facts
Artist Giovanni Antonio Pordenone
Artist dates active 1504; died 1539
Full title Saint Bonaventure
Series Ceiling Elements from a Venetian Scuola
Date made probably 1530-5
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 29.8 x 29.8 cm
Acquisition credit Sir Claude Phillips Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG4038
Location in Gallery Gallery A: Paintings 1250-1600
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Ceiling Elements from a Venetian Scuola

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These two panels are said to have come from a ceiling in the Scuola di S. Francesco ai Frari at Venice. The ceiling originally featured the Four Evangelists on square panels at the corners, with Saints Bonaventure, Louis, Bernardino and Anthony of Padua in separate octagonal compartments around a central full length image of Saint Francis receiving the stigmata. The central panel of Saint Francis is lost but the Four Evangelists, Saint Bernardino and Saint Anthony are now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.

The National Gallery’s panels show Saint Louis of Toulouse in his bishop’s robes holding a Bible, and Saint Bonaventure pointing upwards. They are characteristic works of Pordenone’s late style and closely comparable with his Beato Lorenzo Giustiniani altarpiece (Accademia, Venice) commissioned in 1532, so were probably made at a similar time.

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