MONTAGNA, Bartolomeo
(b. ca. 1450, Orzinuovi, Brescia, d. 1523, Vicenza)

Recovery of the Relic of St Anthony's Jawbone

Sala Capitolare, Scuola del Santo, Padua

The Scuola del Santo in Padua, the house where the brotherhood of St Anthony met, was on the edge of the square in front of the church in which the famous Franciscan saint was buried. This lay confraternity united mainly traders, merchants and artisans who assembled for regular services and mutual social welfare. The Sala Capitolare served for the meetings of the male members, and the older room on the ground floor was allocated to the women. A lavish decoration of the upper hall was begun in 1508 with painted ornaments on the coffered ceiling. At the same time they added wood paneling, armoires, and benches that covered the lower part of the walls. The remaining surface of the walls above this was divided into fields by wooden pilasters, and beginning in 1509it was frescoed by various painters - in the tradition of the older 'scuola' decorations in Venice and Padua. Within a few years a cycle of at least twelve episodes from the life and work of St Anthony had been completed.

The painters of the fresco decoration were Giovanni Antonio Requesta (known as Corona), Filippo da Verona, Tiziano Vecellio, Francesco Vecellio, Girolamo Tessari (known as Girolamo del Santo), Bartolomeo Montagna, and Domenico Campagnola. The room owes its fame in the history of Italian art to three of the paintings: the frescoes Titian produced for the brotherhood in 1511.

Scenes with St Anthony are found on all four walls of the room. The history cycle paintings immediately to the left and right of the altar on the altar wall show Anthony using his eloquence for the well-being of Padua. In the left fresco he is seen soon after his arrival in Padua, preaching to establish peace among the citizens of the city; in the right painting he is calming and converting the tyrant Ezzelino, who represented a threat to Padua from outside. These frescoes were executed by Corona.

To the left of the altar wall, on the long entrance wall, follows a series of miraculous cures by Anthony. The scenes are: The Miracle of the Jealous Husband (Titian); The Healing of the Wrathful Son (Titian); St Anthony Heals a Child who Has Fallen into Boiling Water (Girolamo del Santo, divided into two by the window); Resurrection of a Murdered Man (Bartolomeo Montagna); The Death of St Anthony (18th-century addition); Resurrection of a Drowned Girl (Domenico Campagnola); Resurrection of a Drowned Child (Domenico Campagnola).

The end wall (opposite to the altar wall) shows the saint's three most famous miracles: The Miracle of the Newborn Child (Titian); The Miracle of the Miser's Heart (Francesco Vecellio); The Miracle of the Host (Francesco Vecellio).

The right wall to the altar (the second long wall) depicts, between three windows, four events that took place only after the saint's death: St Anthony Appears to the Blessed Luca Belludi (Filippo da Verona); The Death of St Anthony (Girolamo del Santo); Recovery of the Relic of St Anthony's Jawbone (Bartolomeo Montagna); Miracle of the Glass (Girolamo del Santo).

The picture shows Bartolomeo Montagna's painting on the second long wall. In 1350 Cardinal Guido di Monfort removed the saint's jawbone from his grave, and is kept in a reliquary bust to this day.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.