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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Province of Saint Anthony

Religious life during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was dominated by the mendicant orders, notably the Franciscans and Dominicans, and their ascendancy also extended to the artistic life of the day.

After an austere and almost iconoclastic start in the early 1200s, there followed a relaxation in some Franciscan practice regarding poverty of architecture and the friars minor no longer took over pre-existing buildings but began to commission their own foundations in a new style of architecture.

Following the death of Saint Anthony of Padua, the second Franciscan saint, the Veneto became an important centre for theological and artistic activity.

Originally known as the Province of the Trevisan March and later renamed as the Province of St Anthony, its boundaries were fixed by the Sarca Valley in the west, by the west bank of Lake Garda, by the area of the eastern Alps excluding the Val d’Adige to the north, by the Isonzo River in the east and the Po River in the south. See below.



Some eighty-six churches are documented, and twenty-five survive, most in an altered or heavily restored state. Three extant churches are particularly noteworthy: San Fermo Maggiore in Verona, San Lorenzo in Vicenza and of course, Sant’ Antonio (known as ‘il Santo’) in Padua

The Santo outshines all its Franciscan and mendicant neighbours. Raised as a great pilgrimage basilica to enshrine the body of Saint Anthony of Padua, its fame in the region was surpassed only by San Marco in Venice, the ducal church, symbol of the republic.

Its significance lies not only in its unusual architectural solutions but in its numerous painted chapels. The second half of the fourteenth century might be termed the golden age of fresco painting at the Santo, as exemplified in the works of Giusto de Menabuoi and Altichiero. Both Giusto and Altichiero had previously been employed by the ruling families of Padua and Verona

Giusto de' Menabuoi c.1320 - 1391
The chapel of Blessed Luca Belludi
Fresco
St. Anthony's Basilica, Padua

Giusto de' Menabuoi c.1320 - 1391
The martyrdom of Saint James
Fresco
From the chapel of Blessed Luca Belludi
St. Anthony's Basilica, Padua






Altichiero da Zevio (1330 circa – 1390 circa)
The Crucifixion 1376 -1379
Fresco 840 x 280 cm
The Chapel of St James or San Felice
St. Anthony's Basilica, Padua



Altichiero da Zevio (1330 circa – 1390 circa) and Jacopo Avanzi
Scenes from the Life of St James 1370s
The Chapel of St James or San Felice
Fresco
St Anthony`s Basilica