Donatello’s Altar in the Basilica of St. Anthony in PaduaHistorical Curiosities
Donatello’s Altar in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua
When visiting the city of Padua a not-to-be-missed monument is the magnificent Basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan friar of Portuguese origins who lived between the 12th and 13th centuries.
The Basilica, built between 1233 and 1310, is a shrine of valuable art treasures produced by the greatest artists of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, who were invited to work in the Basilica, including the famous Tuscan sculptor Donatello.
After the commission to execute a large bronze crucifix in 1443, Donatello was also tasked by the friars to build the high altar.
The original arrangement was probably suggestive of a three-dimensional 'sacred conversation' with the six free-standing statues of the saints - Francis Anthony, Justina, Daniel, Louis and Prosdocimo – positioned around a Madonna with Child under a sort of shallow canopy, supported by eight columns or pillars and placed next to the arches of the deambulatory. The base, adorned with bas-reliefs on all sides - St. Anthony's miracles and a Christ Entombment - was likely composed of a predella and a platform decorated with marble inlays.
With the restoration of the presbytery in 1591, the altar was taken to pieces and its various art works destined to different parts of the Basilica. Only a few of Donatello’s statues were added back to the redesigned baroque altar, especially in the crowning portion. In 1895 the altar was reconstructed by the architect Camillo Boito, who, however, created an arbitrary arrangement different from the original composition.
If you want to visit the Basilica accompanied by a knowledgeable local tourist guide, please contact us to arrange an exclusive private tour of Padua!
Vicenza: The castles of Romeo and Juliet in Montecchio Maggiore
In the province of Verona, in the small town of Montecchio Maggiore, there are two castles that look at each other from two hills close...View
Venice: The model of Barbacano in San Polo district
Every so often, walking along the streets of Venice, you will come across wooden structures that stick out of buildings: these are the ...View
Belluno: Tiziano Vecellio’s birthplace in Pieve di Cadore
In the heart of the UNESCO-enlisted Dolomites, there is a small, picturesque village: Pieve di Cadore. It is a special place for the hi...View
Vicenza: The Bridge of the Alpini in Bassano del Grappa
If you are passionate about bridges, you cannot miss out on a visit to the Bridge of the Alpini in Bassano del Grappa, in the Province ...View
Venice: A high relief of Hercules on the façade of Tintoretto’s house
Mysteries & Legends
In the Cannaregio district in Venice stands the house of the famous painter Jacopo Robusti, known as 'Tintoretto' (1519-1594). On the f...View