Saints Paul and Peter

Lateral panel of an altarpiece from Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome; probably begun by Masaccio and finished after his death by Masolino; companion to panels in John G. Johnson collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art (Inv. 409), and in the National Gallery, London (5962, 5963); the Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples (33,35); and the Pinacoteca Vaticana (no. 245, no. 260)

Masaccio (Tommaso di Ser Giovanni Cassai), Italian (active Florence and Rome), 1401 - 1428/29, and Masolino (Tommaso di Cristoforo Fini), also called Masolino da Panicale, Italian (active Florence, Hungary, Rome, Todi, and Castiglione d'Olona), 1383/84 - after 1444.

Made in Rome, Italy, Europe

c. 1428-1429

Egg tempera, oil, tooled gold and silver on wood panel with vertical grain

45 × 21 3/8 × 1/2 inches (114.3 × 54.3 × 1.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor (Dorrance Galleries)

Accession Number:
Inv. 408

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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This painting comes from a two-sided altarpiece once in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. It is generally thought that the great Renaissance master Masaccio designed and began painting this panel before he died at age 27. Masolino, with whom Masaccio had collaborated before, finished his young colleague's work.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    Florentine artists Masaccio and Masolino’s collaboration on an altarpiece for the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome was part of the renovations of religious sites following Martin V’s election as pope in 1417, which ended a schism in the Roman Catholic Church and finally returned the papacy to Rome. Masaccio designed this panel of the double-sided altarpiece, but following his untimely death at the age of twenty-seven, Masolino finished it. Although he reversed the positions of the two saints, Masolino preserved as much of Masaccio’s painting as possible, particularly in the figures’ hands and feet. More than a century later, Michelangelo spoke of his admiration for this early Renaissance masterpiece. Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, pp. 92–93.

  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Martin V, who reigned from 1417 to 1431 as the first pope of the Roman Catholic church newly reunited after a long schism, set about rebuilding and ornamenting the degraded city of Rome. As a consequence, many artists, including Masaccio and Masolino from Florence, were attracted by commissions to Rome. The two worked on an altarpiece for the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. This image of Saints Paul and Peter is one of two panels in the Museum that were originally opposite sides of a single section of the altarpiece. They were begun by Masaccio and finished by Masolino after the former's untimely death at age twenty-seven. Masolino's task was not an easy one, because he was asked to reverse the saints' positions. Masolino made the requested modifications, but did so by incorporating what work Masaccio had finished. In Saints Paul and Peter, for example, he carefully painted around the already executed hands, feet, and blue drapery to adapt Masaccio's design to the new iconography. Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 163.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.