(b. 1280/85, Siena, d. 1344, Avignon)

St Ladislaus, King of Hungary

c. 1326
Tempera on wood, 45,5 x 21,5 cm
Museo della Consolazione, Altomonte (Cosenza)

In 1326 Filippo di Sanguineto, Count of Altomonte and an Anjou Court dignitary, came to Siena as part of the retinue of Charles, Duke of Calabria, the heir to the throne of Naples. When the Duke later left Tuscany, Count Filippo stayed behind as a royal deputy; his task was to keep under control the animosity of the Ghibelline forces, led by the very bellicose Castruccio Castracani. It seems quite likely that during his stay in Siena the Lord of Altomonte met the artist who had given such a masterly portrayal of the Anjou of Naples and of Hungary on the walls of the Lower Church in Assisi and in the Naples Altarpiece commissioned by King Robert. So he presumably seized this opportunity to commission a small painting himself, probably a diptych; the little panel showing St Ladislaus, King of Hungary, now in the Museo della Consolazione in Altomonte, was probably part of that diptych.

The choice of St Ladislaus is perfectly justified by the ties of loyalty that bound Filippo di Sanguineto to the Hungarian branch of the House of Anjou, a loyalty which will later play an important role in the dynastic conflicts. Although the spatial construction of this small panel is very close to that of the Blessed Agostino Novello Altarpiece, the volumes are deeper and there is a wider range of colour. The gold background, with its elaborate and delicate etching, surrounds the saint; standing in a rigidly frontal position, armed with his battle-axe, he reminds us of his valour and his heroic actions in war.