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Pentagonal wooden panel painted with image of man holding a book

A man, visible from the hips up, stands holding a book in his left hand. The palm of his right hand faces the viewer. He wears a light-colored robe and a dark hooded cloak over it. His face is narrow, with dramatic lines. Folds and wrinkles are obvious and dark. His hair is tonsured (shaved in the middle). He looks toward the viewer and slightly right. A faint round halo circles his head. There is an eight-pointed star in the top leftmost corner of the panel. The paint on the panel is worn, with many bare, cracked, or tarnished spots.

Gallery Text

Although this is the oldest known portrayal of Saint Dominic, analysis shows that his face was repainted twice within a surprisingly short period. The original visage was placed at the exact center of the painting (traces of the left ear are clearly visible). A second face, painted over the first around 1260, broke its rigid centrality by shifting the head to the left. This face was then repainted again only twenty years later by a painter working in a style that was current in Siena during the last quarter of the thirteenth century.

Since there is no sign that the panel was damaged, the motivation for repainting such an important cult image must have been a desire to bring the image into line with newer conventions that aimed to make the saint appear more empathetic and accessible.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Unidentified Artist
Previously attributed to Guido da Siena, Italian (active ca. 1250 - 1300)
Saint Dominic
Work Type
c. 1240, with later additions
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Tuscany, Siena
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
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Physical Descriptions

Tempera and gold on panel
including strip frame: 117 x 61.9 cm (46 1/16 x 24 3/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Marchese Peruzzi, Florence. F. Mason Perkins. [Durlacher Brothers, London], sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1920

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Hervey E. Wetzel Bequest Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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gabled top

Publication History

  • George L. Stout, "A Puzzling Piece of Gold Leaf Tooling", Fogg Art Museum Notes, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, June 1929), Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 140-152
  • Edward B. Garrison, Italian Romanesque Panel Painting: An Illustrated Index, Leo S. Olschki (Florence, 1949), p. 85, no. 204, repr.
  • James H. Stubblebine, Guido da Siena, Princeton University Press (Princeton, New Jersey, 1964), pp. 84-87, cat. no. XV, repr. as no. 48
  • Roberto Longhi and Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Storia del restauro e della conservazione delle opere d'arte, Electra Editrice (Milan, c. 1973), pp. 35, 209
  • Carmen Gomez-Moreno, Elizabeth H. Jones, Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., and Millard Meiss, "A Sienese St. Dominic Modernized Twice in the Thirteenth Century", The Art Bulletin (December 1969), Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 363-366, repr.
  • Mojmír S. Frinta, "Note on the Punched Decoration of Two Early Painted Panels at the Fogg Art Museum: St. Dominic and the Crucifixion", The Art Bulletin (September 1971), vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 306-309, pp. 307-309
  • Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 99 [as by Guido da Siena]
  • Kenneth Durkin, "Fogg Conservation Department Restores Beauty to Damaged Art", The Pilot (Boston, July 26, 1974), p. 9
  • Everett Fahy, "Italian Painting Before 1500", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 377-388, pp. 377-378, repr. p. 377 as fig. 1
  • Henk van Os, Sienese Altarpieces, 1215-1460: Form, Content, Function, Bouma's Boekhuis BV (Groningen, 1984), Vol. I, pp. 22-23, repr. p. 23 as fig. 17
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 156, p. 138, repr.
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 112, 278, repr. b/w cat. no. 465
  • Luciano Bellosi, "Per un Contesto Cimabuesco Senese: A) Guido da Siena e il Probabile Dietisalvi di Speme", Prospettiva (January 1991), 61, pp. 6-20, p. 6, repr. as fig. 2
  • Cathleen Hoeniger, The Renovation of Paintings in Tuscany, 1250-1500, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England, 1995), pp. 88-100, repr. as plate 1, figures, 92, 70,
  • The Bible Through the Ages, Reader's Digest Association (Pleasantville, NY, 1996), p. 283
  • Alexander Nagel and Christopher S. Wood, Anachronic Renaissance, Zone Books (New York, 2010), pp. 74-75
  • Joanna Cannon, Religious Poverty, Visual Riches: Art in the Dominican Churches of Central Italy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven and London, 2013), pp. 96-99; repr. in color (detail), p. 90; X-radiograph repr. as fig. 76, p. 98; repr. in color as fig. 77, p. 98
  • Mark D. Jordan, Teaching Bodies: Moral Formation in the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, Fordham University Press (New York, 2017), details repr. on cover
  • Gloucester Blackfriars, brochure, English Heritage (London, 2022)

Exhibition History

  • Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at