Saint Anthony of Padua

Cosmè Tura

Ferrara, c. 1433-1496


Oil and tempera on wooden panel, 178 x 80 cm

This work ought to be seen in conjunction with another painting of this saint executed for Nicolò Maria d’Este, son of Gurone d’Este and bishop of Adria, mentioned by Tura in one of his letters to Duke Ercole I in 1490 and completed one year previously. Despite its age-old association with the Este family, the work only joined the Galleria in 1906, purchased by the Ministry when the Ferrarese Santini family’s painting collection was sold off. 

It is one of Tura’s most extreme masterpieces: here, a monumental conceptualisation of the human figure and the  Renaissan with is still medieval in spirit. The sculptoreal image of the saint dominates the gaze of the faithful, exceeding the limits imposed upon it by the painted architectural frame. St. Anthony stands out against the wonderful miniaturised marine landscape that reflects  a softcrepuscular light on the figure of the saint and the archway. The solemn anguish of the saint’s austere face is typical of Tura, as well as the folds of his tunic which cling to his body.