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[image ALT: A square oil painting in a wooden frame, in which a haloed man, richly dressed and sitting on a horse, is cutting off a piece of his outer mantle with a needle-like sword, exaggeratedly long and narrow. Standing next to the horse, a man, almost naked, receives the cloth and is already starting to wind it around himself. The horse is looking straight at the viewer, with what can only be described as a strikingly coy expression. It is a depiction of St. Martin dividing his cloak with a poor man, as painted by Mezzastris; the painting is in the church of S. Martino in Trevi, Umbria (central Italy).]

A thoroughly iconic representation:

In this painting — in the church of S. Martino (Trevi) — the poor man is very naked, Martin is very clothed, the sword is very sharp; and, to me at least, the piece of coat the saint is parting with doesn't look like it'll cover the recipient too well.

Still, I like this. Our two principals are concerned with their transaction. The horse, elegant, handsome and uninvolved, considers us. In other paintings of the period, it is a look normally seen on the arrogant young nobleman who just happens to be at hand.

The artist, Pier Antonio Mezzastris — or Mezastris — (c. 1430‑1506) was an Umbrian painter from Foligno, about two hours N of this church (on foot): he is consequently a local man. Except for two frescoes in Narni, his remaining work is all to be found within 15 km of his hometown.

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Page updated: 10 Aug 05