Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 November 2018
Donatello designed a lavish high altar for the Santo (S. Antonio) in Padua in the 1440s. This article considers how the interests and concerns of the altar's original beholders may have affected its design and reception. Specifically, pilgrims drawn to the Santo by Saint Anthony's tomb probably would have been impressed by the altar's general magnificence; elite Paduan citizens may have been most interested in the civic associations of the statues displayed on the altar; and the Santos Conventual Franciscan friars may well have interpreted the Antonine narrative reliefs and the altar's overall splendor in light of their growing rivalry with Observant Franciscans.
I would like to thank Joseph Koerner, John Shearman, David Wilkins, and an anonymous reviewer for their very helpful comments. I am also grateful for the suggestions I received after presenting this material at research seminars at the Warburg Institute, the Courtauld Institute, and Birkbeck College, and for additional bibliographical references given to me by Robert Kendrick, Barnaby Nygren, and John White. Finally, I am most appreciative of the support I have received from the Society of Fellows at Harvard University and from Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.