These panels are all that remain of a sumptuous triptych from the city of Camerino in the Marche, a realistic depiction of which may be seen in the hands of its patron saint Venantius. The presence of objects in relief such as St. Peter’s keys and crosier, the jewels and the knives that wounded St. Peter Martyr, or the rich gold worked in different ways and the skilfully rendered texture of materials such as the glass vase, the veil of St. Peter’s robe or the fruit adorning the base, are all designed to breathe greater life into the images.
The work came to the Pinacoteca from the Church of San Domenico in Camerino in 1811 after Napoleon’s spoliations. The composition comes from the polyptych of “Santi belli” executed in 1480 by Niccolò di Liberatore for the church of San Venanzio in Camerino, which in its turn is part of the typical Camerinese tradition.
While transferring it, the original frame, which probably contained other scenes, was lost. Two of those scenes, the Announcing Angel and the Virgin Annunciate, also came to the Pinacoteca but were exchanged for other paintings.
Two parts of the predella, however, remained at the Pinacoteca. As for the later Madonna della Candeletta, Crivelli engraves tiny decorative details, indulges in bold foreshortenings, and reveals a unitary and modern space beyond the archaic structure of the polyptych. However, this work, dated 1482, seems generally less exuberant and more natural.
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“What protrudes more deeply into our space, St. Peter’s keys, brooch, and staff, all three-dimensional appliqués in gesso and metal, or the swelling curve of the painted pedestal he stands on, with its improbable frieze of “real” ripe apples? The plaster sword that cleaves the head of St. Peter Martyr emerges literally from the painting’s surface, but our eyes will swear that the foreshortened tray of Saint Venantius stands out much more dramatically. In this contest between painting and sculpture, painting scores a triumph.”
AUTHOR Carlo Crivelli
OBJECT TYPE AND MATERIAL Tempera on panel
TECNICA OPERA Tempera and oil on panel
DIMENSIONS Saints Pietro and Domenico cm 167 x 63; Madonna with the Children cm 190,5 x 78; Pietro Martyr and Venanzio cm 167 x 61,8; Saints Antonio Abate, Girolamo and Andrea cm 26 x 62; Saints Giacomo, Bernardino and the blessed Ugolino Malagotti of Fiegni (?) cm 26 x 62
FIRMA OPUS CAROLI CRIVELLI VENETI/M48II
Work on display
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