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Spinello Aretino, Decorative Border with a Kneeling Flagellant and Saints

Key facts
Full title Decorative Border with a Kneeling Flagellant and Saints Michael and Stephen
Artist Spinello Aretino
Artist dates born 1345-52; died 1410
Series Arezzo Fresco Fragments
Date made about 1408-10
Medium and support Fresco (with areas of secco) transferred to canvas
Dimensions 65 × 153.7 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir A.H. Layard, 1886
Inventory number NG1216.2
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Decorative Border with a Kneeling Flagellant and Saints
Spinello Aretino

This fragment comes from the border decoration of a large painting in fresco – a technique that involves painting directly onto wet plaster – which showed the fall of Lucifer, the rebel angel who was cast out of heaven. It once decorated a wall of the church of the confraternity of Sant' Angelo in Arezzo.

We see two saints in decorative shapes with white borders. The winged saint holding a sword is Michael; the other is Saint Stephen, identifiable by the stone upon his head (he was killed by stoning). Their haloes were originally gilded but now only a tin underlayer remains.

The remains of an inscription above the central band refers to a man named Christophanus, a member of the confraternity that commissioned the picture. He might be the small kneeling figure in white in the centre. This figure is a flagellant, a person who practised self-flagellation as a form of spiritual repentance and devotion; he carries a whip in his right hand.

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Arezzo Fresco Fragments


These three paintings are fragments of a much larger work in fresco, a technique that involved painting directly on to wet plaster. The whole image showed the fall of Lucifer, the rebel angel who was cast out of heaven and associated with the devil in Christian thought.

The fresco decorated a wall in the church of the confraternity of Sant'Angelo, Arezzo. Its original appearance is recorded in engravings and drawings made in the nineteenth century.

The large fragment shows Saint Michael the Archangel ready to strike Lucifer, while two smaller ones come from the border of the work and show a band of figures set within decorative shapes.These fragments were purchased in 1855 by the archaeologist and explorer Austen Henry Layard, and presented to the National Gallery in 1886. Layard was a founder of the Arundel Society, which aimed to document frescoes in Italian churches and palaces through drawings and art-historical descriptions.