Girolamo dai Libri (Italian, Veronese, 1474/751555)
Tempera and oil on canvas; Arched top, 157 x 81 1/2 in. (398.8 x 207 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1920 (20.92)
The saints (left to right) are Catherine of Alexandria, Leonard, Augustine, and Apollonia. Painted in about 1520 for the Augustinian church of San Leonardo nel Monte outside Verona, the picture was described at length by the sixteenth-century biographer Giorgio Vasari, who especially admired the landscape and enormous laurel tree. While the Madonna and Child reflect the work of Andrea Mantegna, the distant hill crowned with a fortress and the dead tree are taken directly from Dürer's well-known engraving of Saint Eustace. The juxtaposition of the dead tree with the flourishing laurel refers to death and resurrection, while the peacock is a traditional symbol of immortality. A versatile artist, Girolamo dai Libri was equally famous as an illuminator of books, whence his name dai Libri ("of the books"). Of modern manufacture, the frame is based on Renaissance prototypes.