Saint Louis of Toulouse; Saint Bernardine of Siena

Michele Pannonio

Documented in Ferrara from 1446 – 1464

Oil on wooden panel, both 116 x 46cm

Inv. 72, 74

The Pinacoteca Nazionale, Ferrara

These two panels—along with the Saint Anthony kept in a private Milanese collection—made up a polyptych that was originally in the Chiesa di Santo Spirito in Ferrara. When the Costabili Collection went up for sale, they were purchased by the City Council of Ferrara for the Pinacoteca in 1874. These Franciscan saints are identifiable thanks to the presence of the fleur-de-lis (symbol of the French monarchy) on Saint Louis of Toulouse’s cope and the encircled rays emanating from an ‘IHS’ (the Christogram that the Saint promoted) on the Saint Bernardine panel. Michele Pannonio, the painter of Hungarian extraction who participated in the decoration of the studiolo at the Palazzo Belfiore, is believed to have made this polyptych around the 1450s. The Saints’ gaunt lineaments indicate the artist’s awareness of Paduan artistic culture (particularly the workshop of Squarcione) and are also reminiscent of Donatello’s painstaking three-dimensional modelling, as seen in the sculptures executed by the Florentine sculptor for the altar of the Basilica di Sant’Antonio in Padua.