two soldiers with swords held overhead attacking a kneeling figure with a halo; another haloed figure with arms upraised, fleeing, at left; other soldiers in background at right; Madonna and Child at top center in clouds, with two kneeling figures; mounted on tan paper, edged in gold

Death of Saint Peter Martyr, c. 1585-1600

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This lively composition clearly references Titian’s famous masterpiece Death of Saint Peter Martyr (1526–30; destroyed by fire in 1867), formerly on the high altar of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. Calvaert may have known the picture firsthand, or perhaps he worked from one of the early prints after it. While borrowing the general format and some specific poses from Titian’s work, Calvaert created something wholly original. The heavenly apparition that dominates the upper half of the drawing, with the Madonna and Child appearing amid resplendent, swirling clouds, is a signature of Calvaert’s works. He also transformed the heroic violence of Titian’s image into a scene with a dreamy quality, enhanced by the pictorial handling. Calvaert’s figures, with their delicate proportions, abundant drapery, and elegant poses, are more reminiscent of dancers in a ballet than participants in a scene of horrific brutality.

Details
Title
Death of Saint Peter Martyr
Artist Life
Flemish (active Italy), c. 1540-1619
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2011.16.1
Provenance
Dr. Michel Gaud, Saint Tropez, France (until 1987; his sale, Sotheby's, Monaco, June 20, 1987, no. 51, for Fr 144,300); Jacques Petithory, his stamp (not in Lugt), Paris (until d. 1992; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, November 5, 1993, no. 43, for Fr 28,000); Private collection, England; [W. M. Brady, New York, until 2011; sold to MIA]
Curator Approved

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two soldiers with swords held overhead attacking a kneeling figure with a halo; another haloed figure with arms upraised, fleeing, at left; other soldiers in background at right; Madonna and Child at top center in clouds, with two kneeling figures; mounted on tan paper, edged in gold