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Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano, Saint Mark (?)

Key facts
Full title Saint Mark (?)
Artist Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano
Artist dates about 1459/60 - about 1517/18
Series Two Panels from the S. Maria dei Crociferi Altarpiece
Date made about 1500
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 103.2 × 40.6 cm
Acquisition credit Mond Bequest, 1924; entered the Collection in 1938
Inventory number NG4945
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saint Mark (?)
Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano

A bearded saint stands in a stone niche. He holds a book and a pen: he is one of the Four Evangelists, the authors of the Gospels – possibly Saint Mark. Although a saint, he has no halo or attribute; he looks more like a Roman philosopher. The quiet stone, the saint’s abstracted and unfocused gaze and the clear morning light make him seem removed from the cares of this world.

This is one of two panels featuring evangelists from a multi-panelled altarpiece. Another panel, showing Saint Sebastian, is also in the National Gallery’s collection. We are not sure when or where it was made, but it was probably painted in around 1500.

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Two Panels from the S. Maria dei Crociferi Altarpiece


Two monumental saints – Mark and Sebastian – stand in niches topped with shell-like arches. They must originally have formed the outer wings of a multi-panelled altarpiece. We don't know where they originally came from, but in the seventeenth century two panels were recorded in the church of the Crociferi, Venice, where they flanked an image of the Annunciation by Cima (State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg). They do not seem to have belonged together, however: the Annunciation is taller, quite different in composition and painted on cloth rather than wood.

It is possible that they came from an altarpiece which was part sculpted and part painted, like the one Cima da Conegliano painted for the parish church of Olera, near Bergamo. Its painted panels show standing saints, and they flank a carved and coloured statue of Saint Bartholomew in a shell-shaped niche.