A Saint (Mark?) Reading

Bartolomeo Vivarini (Italian, active Venice 1450–91)
ca. 1470
Tempera on wood, gold ground
18 5/8 x 14 3/4 in. (47.3 x 37.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Adele L. Lehman, in memory of Arthur Lehman, 1965
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 627
This depiction of Venice’s patron saint, the evangelist Mark, may once have been full length. If so, the panel may be from an altarpiece painted for the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, and dated to 1473. It is a fine work by Bartolomeo Vivarini, whose success in Venice was surpassed only by the genius of Bellini. Like Bellini, Vivarini was strongly influenced by the example of Mantegna.
Monsieur du Houssaye, Saumur; M. J. Seligman, London (until 1924; sale, Christie's, London, March 14, 1924, no. 21, for £141.15.0 to Visman); [Jean Visman, London, from 1924]; Arthur Lehman, New York (?late 1920s–d. 1936); Mrs. Arthur (Adele Lewisohn) Lehman, New York (1936–d. 1965)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venetian Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," May 1–September 2, 1974, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art in Renaissance Venice, 1400–1515: Paintings and Drawings from the Museum's Collections," November 8, 2011–February 5, 2012, no catalogue.

Claus Virch. The Adele and Arthur Lehman Collection. New York, 1965, p. 27, ill., attributes it to Bartolomeo Vivarini and identifies the saint as Mark; suggests that it was originally one of a series of half-length saints arranged either above or below the main panels of a now dismembered altarpiece; notes that it is similar to the central figure of Saint Mark in Bartolomeo's triptych of 1474 in the church of the Frari, Venice; gives provenance information.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 211, 461, 609, as an anonymous male saint.

Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Venetian School. New York, 1973, p. 93, pl. 104, date it to the early 1470s on the basis of style; note that although the identity of the saint cannot be determined with certainty, he has traditionally been called Saint Mark and he is quite similar in appearance to the Saint Mark in Bartolomeo's altarpiece in the Frari; state that the panel appears to have been altered along all four edges and that the work probably originally depicted a full-length figure; suggest that it was part of a dismembered polyptych of 1473 from the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, which according to old sources included a full-length figure of Saint Mark, adding that the haloes of two other saints from this polyptych are identical to that of the MMA saint.

Andrea De Marchi in Fascino del bello: opere d'arte dalla collezione Terruzzi. Ed. Annalisa Scarpa and Michelangelo Lupo. Exh. cat., Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome. Milan, 2007, p. 409, under no. I.16, calls the figure Saint Mark and accepts the identification of this work as part of Vivarini's dismembered altarpiece of 1473 [see Ref. Zeri and Gardner 1973]; relates the halo to those in Vivarini's Madonna and Child in the Metropolitan Museum (30.95.277) and his Saint Catherine in the Terruzzi collection.

John Marciari. Italian, Spanish, and French Paintings Before 1850 in the San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, 2015, pp. 85–86 n. 14, fig. 12.3 (color), argues that a full-length painting of Saint Mark in the San Diego Museum of Art (1949.87) is more likely than the MMA picture to have belonged to the 1473 SS. Giovanni e Paolo altarpiece.