Enea Salmeggia, Italian, c.1565/70 -1626
Title: St John the Evangelist
Date: c.1605
Medium: Oil with traces of black chalk, on paper, laid down on modern panel
30.5 x 12.3 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 2018
Object Number: NGI.2018.60
DescriptionSaint John the Evangelist is depicted holding a palm, which according to Christian apocrypha was gifted to him by the Virgin on her deathbed. The palm also represents the saint’s near martyrdom, the story of which tells that he survived being thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil.

In 2018, two studies, or modelli, made in preparation for paintings by Salmeggia in the National Gallery of Ireland’s collection came to light. These finished designs, perhaps created to be shown to a client prior to delivery of the final works, are painted in tones of grey and brown, with touches of black chalk. They illustrate the artist’s careful working method and are a rare survival. Salmeggia would subsequently make Saint John’s face more youthful, while adding the yellow sandals and saturated colours that enrich the completed picture (NGI.78).

ProvenancePrivate collection, Italy; Christie's, London, 3 July 2018, lot 14, bought in; purchased, after sale