MASTER of the Osservanza
(active 1430-1450 in Siena)
St Anthony at Mass Dedicates His Life to Godc. 1440
Tempera on wood, 47 x 33 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
In 1940, several panels, until then universally attributed to Sassetta, were reassigned by Longhi to another hand, today generally known as the Master of the Osservanza (active c. 1430-50). The most striking are scenes from the Life of St Anthony which were commissioned by the Augustinians. They held Anthony (251356) in special esteem as the founder of Christian monasticism, whose example converted St Augustine (Confessions, Book VIII).
By 1400 Siena, so long a very rich republic, had lost her vast pan-European banking empire. Without the requisite funds, Siena was forced to abandon the gargantuan rebuilding plan for her cathedral, the lavish interior of which is suggested by this panel.