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Matyrdom of St Justine
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16th Century
Born 1528 Italy, Died 1588
Matyrdom of St Justine
[Martirio di Santa Giustina]
Oil on canvas
104 x 138 cm  [HxW]
Musei D'Arte, Padova

The painting entered the museum in Padua in 1842. Until then, it had been on the altar of the private chapel of the abbot of the Convent of Santa Giustina, where Ridolfi refers to it in 1648. In the past, it was generally considered as Paolo’s “first idea” for the great altar painting of the same subject made between 1574 and 1575, in collaboration with his younger brother Benedetto, for the same Padua church of Santa Giustina. However, considerable differences between the two works (in the format — the altar painting is naturally composed vertically and arched — and in the overall arrangement of the scene, as well as in stylistic variations) tend to disprove this hypothesis. The painting in the museum in Padua is typical of Paolo’s youthful works, still influenced by Mannerist examples he had seen in Mantua (Giulio Romano) and in Parma (Correggio and Parmigianino), and can certainly be dated to the mid 1550s. Quite apart from anything else, this is proved by the existence of an engraving of it by Menarola which bears the date 1556, incontrovertibly the year after which the painting it was taken from could not have been made.

Filippo Pedrocco

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