• France, 1531 
  • Limestone 
  • Inv. 53
  • Sculpture

St. Martin on horseback sharing a cloak with a beggar

A piece of great artistic and documentary interest, dated 1531, displaying the escutcheon, a crowned salamander, of Francis I, King of France. A transitional work, in that the figure of the saint and the beggar retain what is a mediaeval look, while the ornaments are clearly renaissance in style. The motifs, such as masks, heads of Medusa, heads of lions and grotesques inspired by the art of Classical Antiquity, are visible on the horse-trappings and the edging of St. Martin’s garments. 

Stylistically the work belongs to the workshops in the valley of the River Loire; a region much favoured by the magnificent court of Francis I, and is an excellent example of French art as it yielded to Italian influences.

St. Martin, Apostle of Gaul and Bishop of Tours, was one of the most venerated saints in France, with a particularly rich iconography. The most frequently illustrated episode is that represented here with the outcome being the generous division of his cloak.


Raoul Heilbronner collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Demotte, June 22th, 1921.

H. 136 cm; W. 134 cm; D. 34.6 cm 

Figueiredo 1992

Maria Rosa Figueiredo – Catálogo de Escultura Europeia. Vol. I, Escultura Francesa, Lisboa, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1992, p. 33-39, pls.

Lisbon 2001

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – Album, Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2001, p. 102, no. 78, pl.