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Marco Zoppo, A Bishop Saint, perhaps Saint Augustine

Key facts
Full title A Bishop Saint, perhaps Saint Augustine
Artist Marco Zoppo
Artist dates about 1432 - about 1478
Date made probably about 1468
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 49.5 × 28.6 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Alfred de Pass, 1920
Inventory number NG3541
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Bishop Saint, perhaps Saint Augustine
Marco Zoppo

This young, contemplative saint dressed as a bishop has been identified as Saint Augustine, the influential theologian and philosopher who was Bishop of Hippo (in north Africa) in the fourth century. The folds of the draperies he wears are so soft and light that they appear to be made of a very fine weight silk. Bishop’s robes would actually have been made from thick textiles, in reality appearing far more rigid. This delicacy, which extends to the saint’s calm concentration, was typical of Zoppo’s painting.

The painting formed the uppermost part of an altarpiece made of many panels (a polyptych), and as it would have been viewed from below, it makes sense that we can see the underside of the book. It was probably from the altarpiece described in 1581 in the church of Santa Giustina, Venice, signed by Zoppo and dated 1468.

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