TURA, Cosmè
(b. ca. 1430, Ferrara, d. 1495, Ferrara)

St John the Evangelist on Patmos

c. 1470
Tempera on panel, 27 x 32 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

The painting depicts St John the Evangelist on the island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse. The saint is identified by his eagle, which rests on his arm with its wings outstretched, and by the book he is holding. He is thinking or resting rather than reading, leaning against a bare rock. The scene takes place in a desolate landscape of sharp crags which rise up from a deserted plain.

The style is characteristic of Ferrarese painting, which was influenced by Mantegna and Piero della Francesca. Mantegna's influence encouraged Tura's austerity, giving rise to a severe and angular style with hard metallic contours and a brilliant surface, typical features of the Ferrarese school.