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Relief - St. Peter and a Prophet

St. Peter and a Prophet

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Naples (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1475-1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved marble in high relief

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 10, case WE

This relief would once have formed a section of a multi-part altarpiece, and would most likely have appeared on the right hand side, and joined onto, the central panel. The companion piece (7390-1861) would have been next to this relief and furthest away from the central panel, because St Peter is always depicted on the right hand of Christ.

Both were bought in Naples in 1860, having been placed face-down within the Jesuit's church and subsequently removed by a stone mason. The sculptor is unknown, however it is likely he would have been either from Rome or Naples.

Physical description

Marble, carved in high relief. Full length figure of St Peter in a niche, wearing a robe and cloak and holding a book in his left hand and the keys in his right hand. Above is a circular medallion, enclosing a half figure of a prophet holding a scroll with both hands and looking down. On the right and left are two incomplete pilasters.

Place of Origin

Naples (probably, made)


ca. 1475-1500 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved marble in high relief


Height: 132 cm, Width: 56 cm, Depth: 6.4 cm

Object history note

This and the accompanying piece (7390-1861) were purchased from a marble-mason in Naples in 1860. They had been found a few years previously, placed with their carved surfaces downwards, forming some of the pavement of the Jesuit's church in Naples.

Historical significance: St Peter is the leader of the Apostles. He is depicted here with his usual attributes of the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, and the gospel.

The saints represented at the top of the Gateway of the Castelnuovo in Naples are shown within very similar niches, with the semi-circular shell-like carving behind each head, and this seems to be a frequently used motif at this time. The prophets in the circular medallions above are a common motif in Naples and can be seen in the Placido di Sangro monument in San Domenico in Naples (1480).

Robinson and McLagan & Longhurst ascribed the works to a Florentine artist working in Naples, however Pope-Hennessy instead ascribes the work to a native Neapolitan influenced by Mino del Reame and Paolo Romano, or alternatively the work of a Roman sculptor working in Naples.

Historical context note

This relief is believed to have formed part of a pentaptych, and may have once have adjoined the (proper) right side of 7390-1861, the (proper) left side of which would have adjoined the central panel. The pilaster on the (proper) left of 7390-1861 is different from the other three pilasters, which suggests it could have once adjoined the central panel. St Peter is usually depicted in the prime position at the right hand of Christ, however because of the missing edges to both these pieces it is difficult to be definite about their original form.

The Jesuits had two churches in Naples before their expulsion in 1767: Gesu Vecchio, founded in 1557 on the site of a place belonging to the Conti di Maddaloni and of the old church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo; and Gesu Nuovo, founded in 1584 on the site of a palace constructed in 1470 by Novello da San Lucano for Roberto Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno. After the Jesuits expulsion the Gesu Vecchio passed from their control permanently. However, after the return of order to the city, the Gesu Nuovo remained the Jesuits headquarters until they were expelled again in 1860. It is therefore likely that, as these two pieces were bought in 1860, that they originated from the Gesu Nuovo.

Descriptive line

Marble relief depicting St Peter and an unknown prophet, Naples ca. 1475-1500

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Pope-Hennessy, J. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum London, 1964. Text: Vol.I, No. 303, pp291-2. Plate: Vol.III, fig 304, p188
Negri Arnoldi, Francesco 'Scultura Italiana Victoria and Albert Museum I & II' Commentari Anno XXI, June-July 1970, pp204-5
Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1861 In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 27
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, p. 48
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text. Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, pp. 291,2

Labels and date

The panel seems originally to have been contiguous with 7390-1861. Together, they formed the left side of an altarpiece designed as a pentaptych, which may have originated from the Gesu Nuovo, Naples. [1979]




Carving; High relief


Sculpture; Christianity


Sculpture Collection

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