The saints (left to right) are Catherine of Alexandria, Leonard, Augustine, and Apollonia.
Painted in about 1520 for the Augustinian church of San Leonardo nel Monte outside Verona, the picture was described at length by the sixteenth-century biographer Giorgio Vasari, who especially admired the landscape and enormous laurel tree. While the Madonna and Child reflect the work of Andrea Mantegna, the distant hill crowned with a fortress and the dead tree are taken over directly from Dürer's well-known engraving of Saint Eustace. The juxtaposition of the dead tree with the flourishing laurel refers to Death and Resurrection, while the peacock is a traditional symbol of immortality.
A versatile artist, Girolamo dai Libri was equally famous as an illuminator of books, whence his name dai Libri ("of the books"). Of modern manufacture, the frame is based on Renaissance prototypes.
Cartolari ("Cartieri") chapel, San Leonardo nel Monte, Verona (suppressed, 1769; sold to Beadego); Giovanni Battista Beadego, Verona (after 1769; sold to Gianfilippi); Paolino de' Gianfilippi, Verona; [Giovanni Antonio Armano, Bologna, until 1800; sold to Douglas]; Alexander Douglas, Marquess of Douglas, later 10th Duke of Hamilton, Hamilton Palace, Lanark, near Glasgow (1800–d. 1852); William Alexander Anthony Archibald Douglas, 11th Duke of Hamilton, Hamilton Palace (1852–d. 1863); William Alexander Louis Stephen Douglas, 12th Duke of Hamilton, Hamilton Palace (1863–d. 1895; his estate, 1895–1919; his estate sale, Christie's, London, November 6–7, 1919, no. 32, for £2730 to Sulley); [Sulley and Co., London, 1919; sold to Douglas]; [R. Langton Douglas, London, 1919–20; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of the Arts of the Italian Renaissance," May 7–September 9, 1923, no. 33.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Girolamo dai Libri and Veronese Art of the Sixteenth Century," November 16, 2015–February 7, 2016, no catalogue.
Giorgio Vasari. Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori. Ed. Gaetano Milanesi. 1906 ed. Florence, 1568, vol. 5, pp. 328–29, describes it on the high altar of the Cartieri family in the church of San Leonardo nel Monte, near Verona.
Bartolomeo dal Pozzo. Le vite de' pittori, de gli scultori, et architetti veronesi. Verona, 1718, pp. 42–43, 311, as on the high altar of the Carteri family in San Leonardo.
[Giovanni Battista Lanceni]. Ricreazione pittorica o sia notizia universale delle pitture nelle chiese, e luoghi pubblici della città, e diocese di Verona. Verona, 1720, vol. 2, p. 6, as on the high altar of the choir of San Leonardo, noting that the choir was built by the Cartolari family.
Giambatista Biancolini. Notizie storiche delle chiese di Verona. Vol. 3, Verona, 1750, p. 28.
Saverio Dalla Rosa. Catastico delle pitture e scolture esistenti nelle chiese e luoghi pubblici situati in Verona. 1803, vol. 2, pp. 150, 244 [published by Istituto Salesiano "San Zeno", Verona, 1996, pp. 180, 269], as in the collection of Gianfilippi; states that the church of San Leonardo was purchased by Giovanni Battista Beadego after its suppression, and that Beadego subsequently sold the paintings to Gianfilippi.
[Gustav Friedrich] Waagen. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. London, 1854, vol. 3, p. 296, as hanging on the large staircase at Hamilton Palace; notes the influence of Mantegna.
Cesare Bernasconi. Studi sopra la storia della pittura italiana dei secoli XIV e XV e della scuola pittorica veronese dai medi tempi fino a tutto il secolo XVIII. repr. 1977. Verona, 1864, pp. 290–91, incorrectly states that it is in a Genoese collection.
Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle. Unpublished manuscript. [ca. 1866] [Biblioteca Marciana, Venice, 2024/12265/I], as on the staircase of Hamilton Palace, and as painted for San Leonardo, Verona.
J[oseph]. A[rcher]. Crowe and G[iovanni]. B[attista]. Cavalcaselle. A History of Painting in North Italy: Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Ferrara, Milan, Friuli, Brescia, from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century. London, 1871, vol. 1, pp. 495–96, note the influence of Mantegna.
[Franz] Kugler. Handbook of Painting: The Italian Schools. Ed. [Elizabeth Rigby] Eastlake. 4th ed. London, 1874, vol. 2, p. 303.
[George Redford]. "Hamilton Palace." Times (February 6, 1882), p. 4 [reprinted in "Art Sales," London, 1888, vol. 1, p. 319, and in "The English as Collectors," Frank Herrmann, ed., New York, 1972, p. 350].
Selwyn Brinton. Humanism and Art. London, 1907, p. 72.
Luigi di Canossa. La famiglia dai Libri. Verona, 1911, pp. 21–22 [reprinted in "Atti e memorie dell'Accademia d'Agricoltura Scienze Lettere Arti e Commercio di Verona" (serie 4, vol. 12), Verona, 1912, pp. 103–4].
J[oseph]. A[rcher]. Crowe and G[iovanni]. B[attista]. Cavalcaselle. A History of Painting in North Italy: Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Ferrara, Milan, Friuli, Brescia, from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century. Ed. Tancred Borenius. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1871]. London, 1912, vol. 2, p. 203 n. 4, Borenius mentions that it is still at Hamilton Palace.
"In the Sale Room." Connoisseur 56 (January 1920), p. 45.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "The Acquisition of a Girolamo dai Libri." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (June 1920), pp. 137–39, ill., dates it before 1526; notes that the hill at left is in the manner of Dürer.
R[udolph]. Wittkower. "Studien zur Geschichte der Malerei in Verona." Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft  (1927), p. 210, no. 19 [reprinted in "Idea and Image: Studies in the Italian Renaissance," [London], 1978, p. 224, no. 19].
Raffaello Brenzoni inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 23, Leipzig, 1929, p. 188, erroneously lists it as still at Hamilton Palace.
Lionello Venturi. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931, unpaginated, pl. CCCXVI, notes the influence of Mantegna and Francesco Morone.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 258.
Lionello Venturi. Italian Paintings in America. Vol. 2, Fifteenth Century Renaissance. New York, 1933, unpaginated, pl. 424.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 222.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 156, ill.
Carlo Del Bravo. "Francesco Morone." Paragone, n.s., 13 (July 1962), p. 8.
Licisco Magagnato, ed. Le vite de' pittori, de gli scultori et architetti Veronesi. By Bartolomeo dal Pozzo. reprint [1st ed., 1718]. Verona, , vol. 2, p. 33 [see Ref. Zeri and Gardner 1986].
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 195.
Elizabeth E. Gardner. "Dipinti rinascimentali del Metropolitan Museum nelle carte di G. B. Cavalcaselle." Saggi e memorie di storia dell'arte 8 (1972), pp. 71–72, figs. 11 (sketch), 12, publishes a sketch after the painting made by Cavalcaselle when he saw the work in the Hamilton collection; traces the history of its ownership, noting that it was sold to Hamilton by Armano in 1800.
Raffaello Brenzoni. Dizionario di artisti veneti. Florence, 1972, p. 103.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 92, 339, 375, 376, 384, 423, 606.
Hans-Joachim Eberhardt inMaestri della pittura veronese. Ed. Pierpaolo Brugnoli. Verona, 1974, pp. 146, 151, fig. 95, lists it under works attributed to Girolamo dai Libri; relates it to organ shutters painted by Girolamo and Francesco Morone in 1515–16, now at Marcellise.
Mirella Levi d'Ancona. The Garden of the Renaissance: Botanical Symbolism in Italian Painting. Florence, 1977, p. 541.
Denys Sutton. "Robert Langton Douglas, Part III, XVII: Dramatic Days." Apollo, n.s., 109 (June 1979), pp. 454, 456, fig. 6.
James Byam Shaw. Disegni veneti della collezione Lugt. Exh. cat., Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice. Vicenza, 1981, p. 19, notes that the pose of the Christ Child corresponds to that of the Child in a drawing attributed to Mantegna in the Lugt collection.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Italian School. New York, 1986, pp. 27–29, pl. 51, note that the landscape at left and the dead tree are based on Dürer's engraving of Saint Eustace of about 1501; add that the three angels at the bottom of the work recur in Girolamo's altarpiece from Santa Maria in Organo, Verona (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin); date it about 1520.
Gino Castiglioni inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 19, New York, 1996, p. 322.
Gianni Peretti. "Fra Giovanni, Girolamo dai Libri, Dürer." Verona illustrata no. 9 (1996), p. 35.
Godfrey Evans. "The Hamilton Collection and the 10th Duke of Hamilton." Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History 8 (2003), pp. 56, 69 nn. 29–30, fig. 1, dates it about 1520; notes that it appears in numerous inventories of the Hamilton collection between 1825 and 1876.
Peter Humfrey inThe Age of Titian: Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections. Exh. cat., Royal Scottish Academy Building. Edinburgh, 2004, p. 50, fig. 66 (color).
Gino Castiglioni et al. inPer Girolamo Dai Libri: pittore e miniatore del Rinascimento veronese. Exh. cat., Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona. Venice, 2008, pp. 11, 15, 28, fig. 1.
The saints, from left to right, are: Catherine of Alexandria, Leonard, Augustine, and Apollonia. Leonard's dalmatic is decorated with representations of Saints John the Baptist and Jerome, while Saints Veronica, Anthony Abbot, and five unidentifiable figures appear on Augustine's cope.