Saint Petronius

Ercole de' Roberti

Ferrara, c.1450 – 1496


Tempera on wooden panel, 26 x 14cm

This panel, originally located in the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, arrived at the Pinacoteca in 1973 with the donation of the Vendeghini-Baldi Collection. With his left hand, the Saint holds out his own iconographic symbol: a miniature stylised model of Bologna. This was one of twelve images that decorated the side panels of the Griffoni Polyptych, executed by the young Ercole de’ Roberti to complement the main panels that Francesco del Cossa painted from 1473 onwards. The work is therefore fundamental to reconstruct the two artists’ activity in Bologna. The monumental figure of Saint Petronius dominates the niche’s limited space, his miter and halo spilling over its edges. The exaggerated volumes and three-dimensional rendering of draperies with dramatic chiaroscuro effects leads to the recognition that Saint Petronius marks the moment in which the styles of Cossa and de’ Roberti were most similar.