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Saint James Major, part of an altarpiece

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Saint James Major was one of Christ's apostles and the patron saint of pilgrims, those devoted and adventurous Christians who made their way over hundreds of miles to the Holy Land or to the chief pilgrimage churches of Europe. Their connection with James arose from the belief that the apostle had traveled across the Mediterranean as far as Spain to found the famous church Santiago (Spanish for Saint James) de Compostela. The seashell, symbolizing that voyage, and the staff are the saint's usual attributes.

Crivelli is noted for the linear intensity and sculptural hardness of his forms, seen here in the knobby toes and spiraling curls of hair. However, in this image of the saint, who originally would have been gazing at the Madonna and Child as part of a larger altarpiece, we also see a certain tenderness, in his pose, his gesture, and the tilt of his head.

Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.

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