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Workshop of Lorenzo Monaco, 'Saint Benedict in the Sacro Speco at Subiaco', about 1415-20

Key facts
Full title Saint Benedict in the Sacro Speco at Subiaco
Artist Workshop of Lorenzo Monaco
Artist dates active 1399; died 1423 or 1424
Date made about 1415-20
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 36.5 × 27.8 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Presented by Viscount Rothermere, 1940
Inventory number NG5224
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint Benedict in the Sacro Speco at Subiaco
Workshop of Lorenzo Monaco

This panel shows Saint Romanus, who devised an ingenious system – shown here – to deliver food to Saint Benedict, who lived as a hermit. Saint Benedict stands waiting for the basket at the mouth of his isolated cave-dwelling. Both saints are painted with the same colours as the rocks – grey with white highlights and dark shadows – so that they seem to blend into their surroundings. According to the legend, the devil, shown flying in from the left, sabotaged the apparatus but Saint Romanus just found new ways to deliver the basket.

The angel and the building at the panel’s right edge belong to another legend, in which a priest receives a divine order to share his Easter meal with Saint Benedict. The panel has been cut down; the gold borders and decoration were added afterwards. It may originally have formed part of a piece of painted furniture, like a cupboard door.

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