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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Saint Luke the Evangelist

Photo: Paul Macapia

Saint Luke the Evangelist


Giovanni di Paolo

Italian, Siena, active ca. 1420-1482

Often physical evidence alone can help identify a painting's original placement in a now-lost altarpiece. Here, the pointed top and the saint's downward glance suggest that the panel was one of the upper pinnacles of an altarpiece. Because the winged ox identifies the figure as Luke, logically the other pinnacles would represent the other three Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and John. This conclusion is supported by the survival of the other three panels in European collections.

The artist makes use of different types of surface scoring, such as the lines incised into the halo to decorative effect; elsewhere, broad outlines and fine lines were engraved into the gesso to aid in defining the layout of the composition. Because egg tempera paint dries quickly and does not permit blending, Italian artists of this time built up their forms with distinct strokes and hatching. Giovanni di Paolo's particularly bold handling of the egg tempera medium illustrates this technique most clearly. His open painting style—and perhaps the effects of time—also shows the contribution that the greenish underpaint makes to the vibrancy and depth of the flesh tones in the face and hands.
Egg tempera and gold on wood
22 x 13 1/2 in.
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Provenance: Johann Anton Ramboux (1790-1866), Cologne, in 1862 (catalogue, 1862, p. 23, as Vecchietta); [1] Gnecco, Genoa; Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1878-1955), Florence; sold to Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955), New York, June 16, 1937; gift to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1939; deaccessioned and returnd to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1952; Seattle Art Museum, since 1952, accessioned 1961 [1] Katalog der Gemalde alter italienischer Meister (1226-1640) in der Sammlung des Conservators J.A. Famboux, 1862, nos. 124-126
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Italian Art: Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1952. Text by William Suida and Sherman Lee. Cat. no. 9, pp. 6, 14-15.

Cologne, Germany, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Joy and Loss—Cologne Collectors Between Tricolour and Prussian Eagle (Lust und Verlust—Kolner Sammler zwischen Trikolore und Preussenadler), Oct. 13, 1995 - Feb. 11, 1996. Text by Chiyo Ishikawa. Cat. no. 203, pp. 587-588.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Renaissance Art in Focus: Neri di Bicci and Devotional Paintings in Italy, Mar. 25, 2004 - Dec. 31, 2005. Text by Elizabeth Darrow and Nicholas Dorman. No cat. no., pp. 63, 73-75, reproduced figs. 1-5.

Published ReferencesRamboux, Johann Anton. Katalog der Gemälde Alter Italienischer Meister (1221-1640) in der Sammlung des Conservator J.A. Ramboux. Cöln, Germany: Bachem, 1862; p. 23 .

Brandi, Cesare. “Ein Polyptychon des Antonio Veneziano.” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorienschen Institutes in Florenz, no. 7 (1919-32): 444.

Marle, Raimond van. The Italian Schools of Painting: IX Late Gothic Painting in Tuscany. The Hague, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1927; p. 458.

Pope-Hennessy, John. Giovanni di Paolo. New York: Oxford University Press, 1938; p. 89, reproduced, p. 125, plate XIX.

Brandi, Cesare. “Giovanni di Paolo.” Le Arti 3, nos. 4-5 (1941): p. 337, no. 8.

Suida, William and Richard Fuller. European Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle Art Museum, 1954; p. 34, reproduced p. 35.

Coor, Gertrude. “Quattrocento-Gemälde aus der Sammlung Ramboux.” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 21 (1959): p. 86.

Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools XIII-XV Century. London, England: Phaidon Press for the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1966; pp. 149-150, reproduced fig. 405

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools I. London, England: Phaidon Press, 1968; p. 180.

Os, H.W. van, et al. The Early Sienese Paintings in Holland. Florence, Italy: Den Haag, 1989; p. 83ff.

Ishikawa, Chiyo. The Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle Art Museum, 1997; fig. 28, pp. 46-47.

Fahy, Everett. “Article Title.” In La collezione Salini: dipinti, sculture e oreficerie dei secoli XII, XIII, XIV e XV. 2 Volumes. Edited by Luciano Bellosi. Florence, Italy: Centro Di, 2009; vol. [], 310-314.

Sallay, Dora. Corpus of Sienese Paintings in Hungary, 1420-1510. Florence, Italy: Centro Di, 2016; fig. 3a, p. 149.

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