Saint Peter

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This balding, grey-bearded saint can be identified as Saint Peter by the keys which he rests on his thigh and supports with his right hand. These are the keys to the kingdom of heaven, which Christ gave Peter as a symbol of his spiritual power. The keys themselves are unusually slender and elongated, just as the saint is younger, slighter and taller than he is often shown. He looks out at the viewer and raises his left hand in blessing.

This painting was originally part of a large, multi-panelled altarpiece which Costa painted for the oratory of S. Pietro in Vincoli, Faenza. As the patron saint of the oratory, Peter was placed in the most prominent position, on the right-hand side of the Virgin and Child, with Saint Philip on the far side. The stepped architecture and landscape continues across all three panels.

The National Gallery, London



Saint Peter




Oil on canvas


H 109.8 x W 57.1 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1859

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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