By Anne Leader

October 18 is the Feast day of St. Luke, gospel writer and patron saint of artists, owing to the Christian tradition that he painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child. The icon attributed to Luke was kept at the Hodegon Monastery in Constantinople and shows Mary cradling her baby with her left arm while directing attention toward him with her right. This so-called Hodegetria type had a huge impact on both Byzantine and Italian art, and numerous Renaissance and Baroque artists depicted Luke in the guise of a contemporary artist, painting the portrait on his easel as in the altarpiece by Giorgio Vasari, made for the Accademia del Disegno in Florence.

Giorgio Vasari, St. Luke Painting the Virgin, after 1565, fresco, Santissima Annunziata, Florence

Berlinghiero, Madonna and Child, early 13th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Irma N. Straus, 1960

Guercino, Saint Luke Displaying a Painting of the Virgin, 1652-3. Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Purchase: Nelson Gallery Foundation

Donatello, Evangelist Luke, 1428-43, polychrome stucco, Old Sacristy, San Lorenzo, Florence

Pontormo, St Luke, c. 1525, oil on wood, Cappella Capponi, Santa Felicità, Florence

Nanni di Banco, St. Luke, 1408-15, marble, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence

Andrea Mantegna, Altarpiece of St. Luke, 1453, Milan: Pinacoteca di Brera

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