Virgin and Child with Saints

Marco Palmezzano1458/63

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

The saints are, from left to right, Francis, Matthew, Louis of Toulouse, John the Evangelist, Anthony Abbot and Peter Martyr. The poppies strewn over the floor are emblems of death, while the sapling which breaks through the wall represents new life: taken together, these symbols stand for Christ’s victory over death. The stiff, formal arrangement of the figures is rather old-fashioned in a work of this date. The picture was probably painted to celebrate a marriage between members of the Michiel and Donà families in Venice, whose shields appear in the lower corners.

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  • Title: Virgin and Child with Saints
  • Creator: Marco Palmezzano (studio of)
  • Date Created: 1458/63
  • tag / style: Marco Palmezzano; Virgin and Child; religious; mother; Mary; child; halo; saints; knife; Bible; bell; stick; crook; barefoot; cloud; monk; bishop; leaves; throne; sacra conversatione; St Francis; St Matthew; St Louis of Toulouse; St John the Evangelist; St Anthony Abbot; St Peter Martyr; poppies; emblems; death; sapling; new life; victory; stiff; formal arrangement; celebrate; marriage; Michiel; Donà; Venice; shields
  • Physical Dimensions: w1572 x h825 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Marco Palmezzano (1469 -1539) was the most important contemporary artist working in Forlí - a city south of Venice situated within the papal territories. He bought a house in Venice in 1495 possibly because residency might better help him with obtaining commissions. He adapted his painting style to that of Giovanni Bellini who was Venice's leading artist at the time. Bellini's influence can be seen in this picture, particularly in the pose of the seated virgin.
  • Additional artwork information: This type of picture showing the virgin and child with saints is called a 'sacra conversatione'- literally sacred conversation or meeting. Holy figures from widely different historical epochs come together in the timeless sacred space of the picture. Each saint is present because it had some particular significance for the owners of the picture.
  • Type: Oil on wood panel
  • Rights: Presented by Liverpool Royal Institution in 1948