Donato Bramante Santa Lucia


Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta




476 x 720 cm

historical period


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Artwork Details

According to Andrea De Marchi, this is a pendant painting with St. John the Baptist, now located in a private collection in Dallas, which was a part of a larger altarpiece representing the Passion. In the central part there was Madonna with Child which is now in the Lehman collection in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. It was a significant altarpiece which included, among other compartments, a painting of St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata (Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale) and St. Ansanus (Torino, private collection) who is one of the four patron saints of Siena. This particular compartment represents St. Lucy, patron saint of the city of Syracuse in Sicily. She is depicted with the palm of martyrdom in her right hand and a plate of human eyes in other one, which is her attribute. Her name, Lucy (Lucia), means light (lux) referring to the devotion of her as a protector of sight. The background of the painting is completely gilded. The painting originally represented her standing in full-length, but at some point the panel has been cut to show only her bust. St. Lucy is wearing an elegant red dress with golden decorations on the sleeves, neckline and chest. Her yellow mantle is slightly open and it has wide sleeves. Her blond hair is gathered on the top and decorated with a simple red ribbon. The work dates back around 1440 and it is attributed to Maestro dell’Osservanza, who was identified as Sienese painter Sano di Pietro. This could be confirmed by the eyes placed on the plate, because Sano di Pietro painted them in the same way in other three works representing St. Lucy; the Triptych of St. Bartholomew (1447, Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale) the fresco of the Coronation of the Virgin (1445, Siena, Palazzo Pubblico) where St. Lucy is depicted far right, and predella of the church of San Pietro alle Scale. The elegant figure recalls the works of Gentile da Fabriano, whose influence was also evident in Lucy’s hand gesture and the way she is holding the palm. The strong design and sharp lines of her features were typical of Sano di Pietro. In the 19th century Santa Lucia was in the collection of the barons Söhlen von Söhlenthal. In the end of the 1920s’ it passed to the Verburgt collection in The Hague. Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena bought the work on 9 July 2008 from Sotheby’s auction in London.

Artist Details

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Donato di Pascuccio di Antonio known as Bramante was one the most important architects, painters and writers of treatises of the Italian Renaissance.
He completed his studies in the very sophisticated court of Montefeltro in Urbino and he became part of the circle of Piero della Francesca, as a perspective painter and architect. Thanks to his trip to Mantua, he certainly knew Mantegna’s Camera Picta, which had a great influence on him and he used similar perspective views and illusionistic effects throughout his whole career.

His first works were documented in Lombardy; in Bergamo he painted frescoes with the figures of Philosophers and architectural perspectives on the façade of Palazzo del Podestà, and in Milan, where he directed the reconstruction work of Santa Maria at San Satiro, which started in 1478.

Bramante spent the last decades of the 15th century at the Sforza court, where he worked as an engineer, architect, a set designer for various court celebrations, exchanging continuously ideas with Leonardo da Vinci, who was also in Milan at the same time. There he designed the rectory and the cloisters of Sant’Ambrogio, he intervened the discussion regarding the tiburio of the Milan Cathedral, he worked on the Pavia Cathedral and for the city of Vigevano, where made a magnificent urbanistic reorganization of the central square.

During these years the only panel painting attributed to him was the Christ on the Column of Pinacoteca di Brera (1490) which came from the Chiaravalle Abbey for a deposit in 1915. His last great work of his period in Milan was the reorganization of the tribune of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where he adopted the same solution he later used for the Fabric of St. Peter.

After the fall of Ludovico il Moro in 1499, Donato moved to Rome. The studies of classical architecture mixed with the architectural experiences during his Lombard period were the foundations for his Roman working sites.

In 1500 he began working on the cloister of Santa Maria della Pace and two years later, in 1502, the temple of San Pietro in Montorio, which was a perfect example of Bramante’s architectural experiments and the mixture of styles deriving from his studies and education, starting from the court of Montefeltro up to the classicism of the city of Rome.

After the papal election of Julius II in October 1503, the master was entrusted with the superintendence for all papal constructions (Restauratio Urbis by Julius II). He designed the Belvedere courtyard that connects the Vatican palaces with the villa of Innocent VIII and he began to work on the new St. Peter with a central plan. Both construction sites remain uncompleted (Julius II dies in 1513 and Bramante interrupts the work) and they underwent numerous changes over the years, whilst never losing the handprint and the brilliant designs of the multi-talented artist.

Preceded only by Leon Battista Alberti, Bramante was recalled as a great writer of treatises and admired for his inventions, which deeply changed the architecture of his time. His followers were among the greatest artists of all time: Raphael, Baldassare Peruzzi, Jacopo Sansovino and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.

Donato Bramante died in Rome in poor health on 11 April 1514.

Location Details

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The construction of Palazzo della Pilotta started in 1583 for the order of the duke of Parma and Piacenza, Ottavio Farnese, who entrusted the task to architect Francesco Paciotto from Urbino. The name Pilotta derives from the game pelota, played by Spanish soldiers in the courtyard of Guazzatoio.

Today, the building holds the museum of archeology, national gallery, Palatine library, Farnese theater, and the Bodonian museum as well as the Accademia Nazionale di Belle Arti, the artistic lyceum of Paolo Toschi, the Department of Cultural Heritage and Performing Arts of the University of Parma.

After the extinction of the Farnese dynasty their collection was moved to Naples by Charles III of Spain in 1734. Pilotta remained without its artistic treasures until the duke Philip of Spain arrived in Parma in 1749. The son of the king of Spain and his wife Louise Elizabeth, the favorite daughter of the king Louis XV of France. At this occasion, Pilotta became a cultural center, a real symbol of the enlightenment and the French politics. Accademia di Belle Arti was founded in 1757 and a new artistic collection was created, from which will originate the Galleria Nazionale. The Palatina library (1769) and archaeological museum (1769) were added to the complex.

During the years of the restoration, under the duchy of Marie Louise of Austria (1816-1847) the cultural institutions of the Pilotta underwent considerable transformations. The halls of representation of the court were rearranged and the façade of the Palazzo was remade between 1833 and 1834, creating its elegant neoclassical character. Th task was entrusted to the architect Nicola Bettoli and the aim was to giver greater dignity to the ducal residence.

During the 1944 bombardments the building was severely damaged and from this point began a series of restoring interventions renovating the interiors, which became suitable to host the Galleria Nazionale, starting from 1991. The collection includes La Scapiliata by Leonardo da Vinci, the Turkish Slave and the Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine by Parmigianino, Correggio’s Madonna of St. Jerome and the Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, Guercino’s Susanna and the Elders and a view by Canaletto.