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Saint Peter Martyr and a Bishop Saint (Saint Evasio?)
Giovanni Martino Spanzotti
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This painting and Saints Nicholas of Tolentino and John the Baptist are panels from the multi-part Dal Ponte Altarpiece, made for the church of San Francesco in Casale Monferrato. We know that these panels would have formed part of the upper tier because the vaulted ceiling is painted as though from below. The other parts of the altarpiece are in the Brera, Milan; Accademia Albertina, Turin and a private collection.

Saint Peter Martyr was a Dominican friar from Verona. He holds a martyr’s palm, while in his head is the hatchet with which perceived heretics assassinated him. The bishop may be Saint Evasio, of about the third century AD, who was a missionary and bishop of nearby Asti. He was beheaded by pagans in the forests surrounding Casale Monferrato and his relics are preserved in the Cathedral there.

Key facts
Artist Giovanni Martino Spanzotti
Artist dates active 1480 to about 1523
Full title Saint Peter Martyr and a Bishop Saint (probably Saint Evasio)
Group The Dal Ponte Polyptych
Date made 1496-1500
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 76.2 x 52.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1885
Inventory number NG1200
Location in Gallery Not on display
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The Dal Ponte Polyptych

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Saints Nicholas of Tolentino and John the Baptist and Saint Peter Martyr and a Bishop Saint, both in the National Gallery’s collection, are panels from the Dal Ponte Altarpiece. It was a multi-part altarpiece and we can tell that these panels would have formed part of the upper tier because the vaulted ceiling is painted as though viewed from below. The third panel of the upper tier is in a private collection.

The altarpiece, made for the church of San Francesco in Casale Monferrato, was dedicated to Saint Andrew and he was depicted in the main panel (Brera, Milan). Saint Francis and Saint Agatha with Kneeling Donor (Accademia Albertina, Turin) was on the left of the main panel and Saints Catherine and Sebastian (Brera, Milan) was on the right. The meticulously painted luxury, humanity and sense of space in these panels show the influence of Francesco Cossa, with whom Spanzotti had worked as a young man, as well as Flemish, Burgundian and Milanese painting.

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