MAITRE DE SAN MICHELE
parchemin (peint, doré) H. 54 cm ; l. 36.5 cm
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don Wildenstein Daniel (donateur) (1981 acquis)
This elaborately painted sheet illustrates the descent of the Holy Ghost among the disciples of Christ, as described by Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles (II, 1–13), manifested in the tongues of fire that settled over their heads, announcing their evangelical mission. Saint Peter’s central position, underlined by the composition’s symmetry, no doubt reflects his role in the construction of the Christian Church. Also, while Saint John stands out by virtue of his youthful appearance, there are no attributes to help identity the figures of this sacerdotal body. The only certainty is that Saint Paul is shown among the apostles, which runs counter to biblical chronology (he converted later). Georges Wildenstein acquired this sheet in 1930 along with several illuminated initials from a gradual (book of hymns for the Roman Mass) created for the Camaldolese monastery of San Michele on the island of Murano. Long thought to be Lombard Belbello da Pavia, the artist who made this work is no less virtuosic for being unidentified.