Description Signoretto Alliata was a nobleman of Pisa who spent his life on Sicily, working in hospitals. Late in life, he became a hermit and lived in seclusion in a deserted place on the shore. According to legend, he received his martyrdom near his dwelling at the hands of a band of North African pirates. In the painting, the pirates can be recognized as Muslims by their turbans. To a Christian audience, the scene conveyed the death of a blessed man at the hands of infidels. His luminous pale body and drapery symbolize his purity. Angels hand him the crown of martyrdom. This loosely painted scene was a preparatory version for a large painting commissioned for the cathedral of Pisa by Count Tommaso Alliata Campiglia, who wanted to honor his holy ancestor.
Provenance Galleria des Monte di Pietà, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [no. 1602]; Cassa dei Depositi e Prestiti, Rome [date and mode of acquistion unknown]; Cassa dei Depositi e Prestiti Sale, Rome, November 30, 1875, no. 65 [as Cades]; Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquistion unknown] [1897 catalogue: no. 431, as a study of a painting in Venice representing St. Luke by Tiepolo]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902
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