SANO di Pietro
(b. 1406, Siena, d. 1481, Siena)

Madonna and Child with Sts Anthony Abbott and Bernardino of Siena

c. 1450
Oil on gold ground panel, 60 x 44 cm
Private collection

Around 1450, the year in which St Bernardino was canonized Sano di Pietro was commissioned to paint numerous images of the patron saint of Siena. These historical events explain the large number of small devotional panels depicting the Madonna and Child flanked by St Bernardino and usually one other saint, of which the present panel is a fine example. The sunken cheeks of St Bernardino and the physiognomic resemblance among the various representations of the saint, are explained by the fact that Sano di Pietro apparently used a wax mask, taken of the saint's head at the moment of his death, to ensure an accurate likeness (a cast of the mask was at one time preserved at the museum of Aquila).