Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 66

Paredes de Nava, ca. 1488 – Valladolid, 1561
Pair of Busts: Roman Soldier and Roman Senator
(Probably San Marino and San Asterio)
(Relief tondi)
Sixteenth century, second quarter
Gilded and polychromed wood
67.5 x 65 cm
One tondo represents the bust of a man, his head turned towards
Private Collection
his left, with abundant hair and a full beard. He wears a tunic,
with a cape or toga covering his shoulders. The pendant tondo
presents a soldier, head turned towards his right, wearing a tunic
fastened on the left shoulder with a brooch. On the other bare
shoulder is a lion’s head with three wide straps emerging from the
mouth. This figure wears a visor, or helmet, also in the shape of a
lion’s head. Both busts are executed in high relief, framed within
a tondo, against a dark background decorated with leafy gold
These paired reliefs were clearly intended to face each other,
and their considerable size suggests that they originally formed
decorative elements in a large-scale, architectural altarpiece.
Given their three-dimensionality and slightly downward-turned
projection, it seems likely that they would have been incorporated
into the attic of the structure. Depictions of Roman martyrs were
common in the iconographical programmes of altarpieces; in this
case the figure wearing the toga must be a patrician and the other
a legionary, possibly Saints Marino and Asterio, both martyred in
Caesarea, Palestine, under the Emperor Gallienus.1


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