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A Saint with a Fortress and a Banner
Girolamo da Santacroce
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This young saint holding a banner and a model fortress was once thought to be Saint George, as a red cross on a white background is the flag associated with him. However it is more likely that he is Terentius, the patron saint of Pesaro. He stands high on a parapet, set against a great expanse of sky. Where the fabric of his cloak catches the light, the pattern of the gold damask weave is wonderfully revealed in tiny hatched brushtrokes.

Originally this panel and A Youthful Saint reading, also in the National Gallery’s collection, would have flanked a central image, probably of the Virgin and Child, in a multi-panelled altarpiece known as a polyptych. The contemplative mood of the painting, the grassy landscape with its hilltop town beneath a large sky and the saint’s oval face are all reminiscent of late works by Giovanni Bellini.

Key facts
Artist Girolamo da Santacroce
Artist dates active 1516; died 1556?
Full title A Saint with a Fortress and a Banner
Group Two Panels from an Altarpiece
Date made probably about 1512-25
Medium and support Oil on spruce
Dimensions 117.8 x 47.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG633
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Two Panels from an Altarpiece

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These two unidentified saints are panels from an altarpiece. Originally, they would probably have flanked a central image, perhaps of the Virgin and Child. We do not know for which church the altarpiece was painted. The panels show the influence of the Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini’s late style in their grassy pastoral landscapes, cloud-streaked skies, rich colour palettes, simplified forms and contemplative mood.

A Youthful Saint reading has previously been identified as John the Evangelist, who is frequently depicted as a young fair-haired man dressed in green and red reading the Gospel of Saint John, however this identification is not certain. The identity of the saint in the other panel is also unclear: although he holds the cross of Saint George, he does not wear armour and is not accompanied by a dragon as is usual in depictions of Saint George. He may represent a local patron saint, perhaps Terentius, the patron saint of Pesaro.

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