Saint Margaret and stories from Her life
Tempera on wood
The table, together with the twin with San Nicola (Cat. II. 3) and the Madonna with Child (Cat. II. 9), comes from the noble church of Santa Margherita di Bisceglie, of the noble Falcone family, in which it is remembered, but not on the altar, until the 1920s. Passed by the church to the Sifola, the Frisari and finally to the Berarducci counts, it was purchased in 1963 by the Province of Bari for the Pinacoteca, which promoted it. Never subjected to an integral restoration but only to conservative and light cleaning interventions, it has undergone irreparable damage especially in the lower part, where the color has fallen stripping the priming or at times the support, and along the left lateral margin, which is strongly incomplete . Showy lesions cross it longitudinally at the junctions of the three boards of which it is made, stopped only by two rough crosspieces nailed on the back. The gold background is incomplete and integrated in several points. On the iconographic level, the table is closely related to that of San Nicola, of which it was alternatively considered model or derivation. Here we will only consider them twins, however rejecting the hypothesis that they originally formed a diptych. The setting is similar, with the holosome figure of the Saint, rigidly frontal, lowered with respect to the high edge that acts as a frame. The praying position gives maximum prominence to princely clothing: a red cloak with a green reseda lining embellished with a diagonal lattice motif, stopped at the neck by a brooch and edged with two rows of small pearls, which the open and raised arms open in two loops on a blue tunic vigorously highlighted with white enriched by a jeweled stole; the tips of the red shoes come out from the hem of the dress; the head is enclosed in a dark blue cap; the features of the face are definitely marked and plastically detected by strong brush strokes, without subtleties of passing. Unlike in San Nicola, the very large nimbus is detected from the bottom. The explanatory writings of the scenes are missing, which are arranged along the raised edge that acts as a frame. The story of Marina, an Antiochene virgin and martyr, who became Margherita in the Latin translation of the Passio, unfolds in chronological order with a reading trend for registers, from left to right, from top to bottom.