The name of the author of this polyptych is not documented, but scholars have recognized his style in series of paintings dating from 1330 to 1340, and have assigned him the conventional name of Pseudo Jacopino. Recently, there was a proposal to separate this and other works from the series, attributing them to a different artist named Maestro dei Polittici di Bologna - Master of the Bolognese Polyptychs.

The painting comes from the suppressed Benedictine abbey of San Naborre e Felice, which was one of the most ancient in Bologna.

The work is on two levels: the Coronation of Mary is shown in the lower central part, while in the lateral sections, framed by spiral columns, portrayed from the left, are Saints Benedict, Nabor, Felix and the Archangel Michael.

The scene of the Crucifixion occupies the upper central part; on the sides from the left are Saints James, Bartholomew, Augustine and Stephen.

The expressiveness of the gestures and faces, like that of St. Nabor, which became one of the symbolic images of the Pinacoteca, is typical of fourteenth-century Bolognese painting, as well as attention to clothing and fashion details.

For example, Saints Nabor and Felix wear wide sophisticated robes with sleeves, enriched with gold decorations. St. Felix (right), is holding gloves, at that time an uncommon accessory and a symbol of authority and power. However, he has taken them off, indicating respect for the sacred scene.


The saints depicted in the upper section, in addition to the traditional iconographic attributes that distinguish them, all hold books in their hands, perhaps a tribute to Bologna, an established academic city and home to an ancient university.

This painting can be dated to the earliest years in the career of Vitale, a great protagonist of Bolognese painting from 1330 to 1360. Its subject is St. George defeating the dragon and freeing the princess.

Exceptionally for the era, the artist signed the work cryptically, composing a monogram and inscribing one letter inside the other to form the name VITALIS. The signature appears in the horse’s brand (equus in Latin) alluding to the painter's surname: Degli Equi.

Vitale, also thanks to a highly efficient workshop, developed his own artistic idiom, which involves research into expressiveness and attention to detail.

Here, for example, movement is accentuated by the knight’s pose. The knight’s hair blows in the wind and his red tunic flutters under the shirt of iron mail. He is throwing himself onto the dragon, firmly holding the reins of his beautiful and skittish horse. The princess, on the other hand, turns her head to look back, casting a last glance at the scene.

The gilded decorations, stamped onto the work, still survive, for example, in the knee-guards of the armour, the shoes or the saint’s halo, accentuating the three-dimensional effect.

The background, blue rather than gilded, as was usual in fourteenth-century paintings, suggests that the panel was originally set into a frescoed wall, and was intended to blend in with it.


The absence, in the upper and lower part, of the decorative band with geometric patterns, which is present on the sides, suggests that it may have been cut out in the past.