Saint Judas Thaddeus once decorated the predella of an altarpiece along with nine other small portraits of apostles, three of which are in the collection of the National Gallery of Art: Matthew, Simon, and James Major. This panel of Saint Judas Thaddeus is among the best preserved of the four and the softness of the modeling displays most clearly Simone Martini’s refined pictorial manner. With his head bowed to one side, the apostle turns away from the viewer to contemplate something or someone beyond the frame of representation. The dreamy introspective air of the young saint is complemented by the delicacy of his gestures, particularly the way in which he draws the fingers of his right hand through the fabric of his mantle. The spontaneous naturalism of this action distinguishes Simone's works from those of his peers.


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