Saint George(?)

Tuscan sculptor, mid-fifteenth century

painted and gilded wood, 54 x 31.5 x 18.5 cm


The work, carved in poplar wood, painted with great attention to naturalism and embellished with a field of gold leaf, stands out for its unique character within the corpus of Central Italian wood sculpture of the Quattrocento. It represents a young knight saint, probably identifiable as Saint George, wearing an imposing late-Medieval style suit of armour, which conceals his body almost completely, leaving only part of the face uncovered.
The work is notable for the particular cut of the figure, shown in three-quarter length, conceived to be viewed from all sides, it originally held a sword in the left hand, as testified by the hole still visible, and in the other probably a banner. The sculpture, however, was conceived in accordance with the traditional bust-reliquary, placed on a base in the centre of an altar or tabernacle, and intended for veneration by the faithful who could thus observe one of the precious reliquaries of the saint located in the oval niche carved on the chest.
The work has previously appeared with a reference to the style of Francesco di Valdambrino (Siena, 1375-1435), on the basis of its general affinities with Sienese wooden polychrome sculpture of the first half of the fifteenth century. In addition to Sienese characteristics, however, northern European influences, can also be discerned, Burgundian in particular, as testified by the heavy arching of the figure´s shoulders, but also the influences of the strip of central Italy close to the Appenines in the greater emphasis on Saint George´s facial expression, with its more synthetic and incisive features compared to the linearity and subtlety of the typically Sienese tradition.

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