Saints Nicholas of Tolentino, Roch, Sebastian, and Bernardino of Siena, with Kneeling Donors

Benozzo Gozzoli (Benozzo di Lese di Sandro) (Italian, Florence ca. 1420–1497 Pistoia)

Tempera and gold on canvas, transferred from wood
Overall, with added strips, 31 x 24 3/8 in. (78.7 x 61.9 cm); painted surface 30 1/8 x 23 1/2 in. (76.5 x 59.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Harry G. Sperling, 1971
Accession Number:
  • Catalogue Entry


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Dated and inscribed: (center, on parapet, considerably strengthened) QVESTI IIII·SANTI D IFENSORI / DELLA PESTILENTIA A FATTFARE / PIETRO DIBATISTA DA RIGO DIM INOE / CITADINO PISANO·M· CCCC·LXX XI· (Pietro di Battista d'Arrigo di Minore[?], citizen of Pisa, had these four saints, protectors against the plague, made in 1481); (on haloes, left to right) ·SANTVS NICHOLAVS DETOLENTINO·; ·SANCTVS ROCHVS·; ·SANCTVS SEBASTIANVS·; ·SANTVS BERNARDINVS·; (in Saint Bernardino's open book) PATER M / ANIFES / TAVI N / OMENT / VVM O / MNIB / VS· [ ]E / [ ]FA[ ] / MI[SERICORDI]AM T / VA[M] NOB / IS DOMI / NE CLE / MENTE / [ ] OSTE / NDE [ ] (Father, I have manifested thy name unto all men [John 17:6]; merciful Lord, show us thy compassion)

  • Provenance

    comte Robert de Pourtalès, Paris (by 1900–at least 1907); Jeanne de Pourtalès, baronne d'Adelsward, Paris (by 1909); comte James de Pourtalès, Paris (by 1959–66; sold to Mons); [Mons et Cie., Paris, from 1966]; [Allen Loebl, Paris, until 1967; sold to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1967–75; bequeathed by Harry G. Sperling, last surviving partner of firm, to MMA]

  • References

    Bernhard Berenson G. P. Putnam. The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance. 2nd ed. New York, 1900, p. 106, as in the collection of comte Robert de Pourtalès, Paris; attributes it to Benozzo Gozzoli and records the date as 1471.

    Bernhard Berenson. The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance. 2nd ed. New York, 1904, p. 106.

    Bernhard Berenson. The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance. 3rd ed. New York, 1909, p. 115, as in the collection of baronne d'Adelsward, Paris.

    [Joseph Archer] Crowe and [Giovanni Battista] Cavalcaselle. "The Sienese School of the XIV Century; The Florentine School of the XV Century." A New History of Painting in Italy from the II to the XVI Century. 2, London, 1909, p. 486 n. 3, Hutton mentions it among works by Gozzoli.

    G. Gronau in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 3, Leipzig, 1909, p. 348, cites Berenson [see Refs. 1900 and 1904].

    Adolfo Venturi. "La pittura del quattrocento." Storia dell'arte italiana. 7, part 1, Milan, 1911, p. 430 n. 1.

    Isabella Errera. Répertoire des peintures datées. 1, Brussels, 1920, p. 25, follows Berenson's reading of the date as 1471.

    Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. 11, The Hague, 1929, pp. 205–6, 216 n. 1.

    G[offredo]. J. Hoogewerff. Benozzo Gozzoli. Paris, 1930, pp. 62, 93, lists it as by Gozzoli, dated 1471.

    Anna Padoa Rizzo. Benozzo Gozzoli: pittore fiorentino. Florence, 1972, pp. 84, 86, fig. 215, as dated 1471; ascribes it to the workshop of Gozzoli and compares it to the fresco of the Crucifixion with Saints in the Ospizio di Mendicità, Pisa, stating that the two works may be in part by the same hand; notes similarities to a predella panel of the Pietà (Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire) which she attributes to Gozzoli, perhaps with the assistance of the artist responsible for this panel.

    Diane Cole Ahl. "Due 'San Sebastiano' di Benozzo Gozzoli a San Gimignano: un contributo al problema della pittura per la peste nel Quattrocento." Rivista d'arte 40 (1988), p. 42 n. 27, discusses the issue of clothed versus nude representations of Saint Sebastian.

    Avraham Ronen. "Gozzoli's St. Sebastian Altarpiece in San Gimignano." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 32 (1988), pp. 77, 88, 96, 113 n. 3, p. 117 n. 35, fig. 14, as "painted in Pisa by Gozzoli (or in his workshop ?)"; calls it one of four "Plague-Pictures" attributed to Gozzoli, and discusses the iconography of Saint Sebastion as it relates to a fresco altarpiece by the artist in San Gimignano.

    Anna Padoa Rizzo. Benozzo Gozzoli. Florence, 1992, p. 123, no. 65, ill.

    Cristina Acidini Luchinat. Benozzo Gozzoli. Antella (Florence), 1994, p. 61.

    Diane Cole Ahl. Benozzo Gozzoli. New Haven, 1996, pp. 189, 233, 237, 239, no. 47, pl. 244, calls it a collaborative work, assigning the figure of Saint Bernardino, the angels' drapery, and the background city to an assistant, attributing to that same individual parts of the "Lamentation over Christ" (Colnaghi, New York) and the "Legoli Tabernacle" fresco; suggests that the same drawing may have been used as a model for the figure of Saint Bernardino in this painting and in the San Lazzaro fuori le mura altarpiece (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Pisa); believes that since the individual who commissioned the painting is identified as Pisan in the inscription, the date of 1481 is probably in "stile pisano" and thus actually refers to 1480.

    Louise Marshall in "Dalle origini al Concilio di Trento." San Nicola da Tolentino nell'arte: corpus iconografico. 1, Tolentino, 2005, pp. 307–8, no. 150, colorpl. XXIX, ill. pp. 169 (color detail) and 308.

  • Notes

    The four saints appear in this panel as intercessors on behalf of the town seen in the distance against the ravages of the plague (symbolized by the spear-carrying angels). The town cannot be identified with certainty, yet the fact that the patron was Pisan (as evidenced by the inscription), and the presence of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, who was particularly venerated in Pisa, would tend to suggest Pisa as the city represented.

  • See also
    In the Museum