Santa Martire, Santa Chiara

Holy Martyr, Saint Clare

Alvise Vivarini

Author
Alvise Vivarini
Murano, 1442/1443 - morto tra il 1504 ed il novembre 1505
Title
Holy Martyr, Saint Clare
Catalogue
593a, 593b
Date
ca. 1485
Support
Wood panel, 144 x 38 cm
Provenance
Acquired in 1828 from the church of Santa Chiara following the Napoleonic Suppression (the Holy Martyr was moved to Vienna from 1838 to 1919 and housed in the Akademie der Künste).
Hall
Hall XXIII

The two panels show an unidentified holy martyr and Saint Clare, dated around 1485. Boschini (1664) remembers them positioned at the sides of a small altar under the nuns’ choir in the church of San Daniele on Murano, originally home to a Benedictine order and then, from 1437, run by an Augustinian order of nuns established by Chiara Ogniben Sustan, the new community's first abbess. The expression on Saint Clare’s face clearly reveals her character and would lead one to suppose that it is a portrait or a tribute to her; the stark contrast between the white around her face and her black habit serve to highlight the intensity of her gaze. The figures are devoid of any decorative element, except for the martyr’s attributes, and express moral and spiritual austerity.