Head of a Tonsured, Beardless Saint

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This is a fragment of a wall-painting made using the fresco technique (painting directly onto wet plaster). It comes from a ’street tabernacle‘ – an outdoor religious painting – that showed the Virgin and Child surrounded by two saints.

It is the head of one of the saints. We can’t identify him from his head alone but his darkly coloured robes and tonsure (the central section of his hair is shaved, a sign of devotion among members of religious orders) suggest he was a friar, a follower of either Saint Benedict or Saint Augustine. He resembles images of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, an Augustinian.

The tabernacle was painted on the first floor exterior wall of a house in Florence so that it would have been visible to passersby.

The National Gallery, London



Head of a Tonsured, Beardless Saint


about 1440-4


Fresco, transferred to tile


H 43 x W 35.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1867

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

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