The Story of the Val di Non: "The Altar of Saturn"

The Story of the Val di Non:  "The Altar of Saturn"
Bernardino Luini (Italian, c.1481/2-1532)
Oil on panel 
12-3/4 x 16-1/2 in. (32.4 x 42.0 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

Bernardino Luini, a celebrated Milanese painter, followed the pictorial traditions of Leonardo da Vinci. His style is characterized by soft, rounded forms and simplified structures. These panels originally formed part of an altarpiece painted for the Church of Saint Sisinio a Mendrisio near Lake Lugano.

In the" Vow of the Three Friends," Saints Sisinio, Martyrius and Alexander set forth on their journey from Cappodocia. In "The Ordination" the three are invested by the Bishop of Trent and sent out as missionaries. The "Altar of Saturn" shows them refusing to sacrifice to a pagan deity, angering the local priest. This is followed by the "Martyrdom of Martyrius and Alexander", in which the two monks are killed by angry local pagans. The "Martyrdom of Saint Sisinio" shows the bound bodies of the three saints dragged by soldiers. Their church, seen in the background, was later destroyed by the pagans.


Torriani Chapel, Church of La Torre a Mendrisio, Lake Lugano, to 1797, sold in 1797 to;
Giulio Sacco, Varese, Italy, 1797 to;
Count Giacomo Sannazzaro, by bequest to;
Ospedale Maggiore, Milan, to;
Count Giovanni B. Lucini Passalacqua, Milan, to 1885 04 14, sold through;
[Theatre de la Scala, Milan, April 14, 1885 (lots 2, 3, 4)].
Charles H. Butler, London, by 1891.
Robert H. and Evelyn Benson, London, 1893 to 1927 06 01, to;
[Duveen Brothers, New York (stock #29351), sold 1965 to;
The Norton Simon Foundation;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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