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Ugolino di Nerio, Saints Bartholomew and Andrew

Key facts
Full title Saints Bartholomew and Andrew
Artist Ugolino di Nerio
Artist dates documented 1317-27; died possibly 1329
Series The Santa Croce Altarpiece
Date made possibly 1325-8
Medium and support Egg tempera on poplar
Dimensions 70 × 62 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres through the Art Fund, 1919
Inventory number NG3473
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saints Bartholomew and Andrew
Ugolino di Nerio

This picture was once part of a multi-panelled altarpiece with four tiers, made for the Florentine church of Santa Croce. It would have appeared in the third tier, above an image of the apostle Paul (now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin) and beneath an image of David.

The inscriptions that identify these figures as Saints Bartholomew and Andrew are very damaged. The two have very different features: Saint Bartholomew is shown as a young man with thick red hair and a beard, while Saint Andrew is shown as an older man with grey hair.

Saint Bartholomew’s tunic is painted with an elaborate pattern, and brown leaf-like shapes are probably mordant (the sticky substance used to attach gold leaf to a panel). This means that these areas were originally gilded. The edges of both draperies were also most likely gilded.

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The Santa Croce Altarpiece


These panels were once part of a large altarpiece which adorned the high altar of the church of Santa Croce in Florence. It focused on the Passion of Christ (his torture and crucifixion) and the Resurrection – an appropriate theme, as the church was dedicated to the Holy Cross.

Drawings made in the late eighteenth century show how it was arranged originally. There were four tiers of images: the main tier had a central image of the Virgin and Child flanked by images of the saints within arches, which were decorated with angels (there are two sets of these in the National Gallery’s collection).

Above was a row of saints framed in pairs; we hold two pairs. The uppermost tier consisted of six pinnacle panels, three on either side of a central image which probably showed the Crucifixion, itself topped by an image of Christ making a blessing gesture. The predella (the lowest layer) consisted of seven scenes showing Christ’s suffering and death; we have four of these.