St. Martin of Tours

Stefano da Putignano's sculpture of St. Martin of Tours shows him with a shepherd's staff in his left hand and his right hand raised in a blessing. Putignano likely made the statue in 1511, when he first created works for the city. The statue was originally located in the old Cathedral of Martina Franca, which was destroyed and rebuilt in the 18th century. Although it was supposed to be replaced by a new statue of St. Martin of Tours, the replacement was rejected by the local people. Instead, Putignano's sculpture was ""renewed with colors"" a common practice for polychrome sculpture. While we are offended today at the idea of repainting a sculpture and most modern restoration aims at revealing the original surface, repainting was considered a form of devotion in early modern cultures. So the gilding on the cloak and other surface treatments are more in the style of the eighteenth century. Today the sculpture is located in the 18th C church, in a marble niche made by Neopolitan Gennaro Sammartino (18th C). The fluid carving of the drapery and the hand raised in blessing create a convincing sense that the saint is present, exercising pastoral care over his flock. A sixteenth-century document records the original inscription on the base (now lost), in which Stefano proudly identified himself as an architect (Stephanus Apulie Potentiani architectus me celavit). Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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