San Bartolomeo (c.1497)

Pinturicchio (c.1454-1513)

San Bartolomeo (Saint Bartholomew)
Tempera on wood panel, 59.6 x 51 cm
Princeton University Art MuseumPrinceton

Flayed and crucified for spreading Christ’s word through Armenia and India, the apostle Bartholomew was represented horrifically, holding his own skin, in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel (1536–41). Pinturicchio, who contributed to a fifteenth-century cycle of frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, shows Bartholomew according to earlier Renaissance conventions. The saint stands calmly, looking with a reverent gaze toward his prayer book or Bible. The simple and harmonious image is heightened by a splendid green cloth of honor, ornamented with crosses, that hangs behind the saint. Beginning in the fourteenth century, lavish textiles were included in religious images as symbols of status and holiness. Particularly emphasized are the gilt relief of his halo and a silver gilt knife, also in relief, the attribute that alludes discreetly to his martyrdom. The rich materials of Bartholomew’s book, with its braided tassels, are appropriate for this patron saint of leatherworkers. (PUAM)