Saint Leonard (?)

oil and tempera painting of Franciscan monk in black robe holding red book, against gold background

Saint Leonard (?)
Oil and tempera with gold on poplar panel
15 3/4 x 11 1/10 in. (40 x 28.2 cm)
The Frick Collection, New York

Piero depicts this unknown man in an Augustinian habit, with his hair trimmed in the tonsure of a friar. He may be Leonard, an important saint in the history of Borgo San Sepolcro and the one to whom the town’s foundational oratory was dedicated. All four paintings on this wall have gold backgrounds, identifying them as panels that decorated the frame of the Sant’Agostino altarpiece. Its gilded surfaces reflected the candlelight, making these figures appear as divine visions within a glittering surround.

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