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Paolo da San Leocadio, The Virgin and Child with Saints

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saints
Artist Paolo da San Leocadio
Artist dates active 1472 to 1520
Date made about 1495
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 43.5 × 23.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1935
Inventory number NG4786
Location Gallery C
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child with Saints
Paolo da San Leocadio

The Virgin presents the Christ Child, who balances on a gold-threaded pillow and blesses the viewer. Further gold detailing can be seen in the decoration running along the edge of the Virgin’s blue robe, which reveals the artist’s name in Latin: ‘PAULUS’. Behind the mother and child are three female saints each with an attribute relating to their martyrdom: Saint Catherine, with a broken spiked wheel; Saint Agatha, holding a tray with her severed breasts; and a third unidentified saint holding a dagger. Passing through the archway in the distance is the elderly Saint Joseph, leaning on a staff. They appear in an enclosed garden, symbolic of the Virgin’s purity.

Paolo de San Leocadio’s style is closely associated with that of north Italian masters, with whom he trained before moving to Valencia. He moved there under the patronage of the Borgia pope Alexander VI to paint large-scale frescoes for the city’s cathedral in 1472 to 81. This work dates to after this commission, when he painted several altarpieces for towns in eastern Spain.

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