King Totila Blessed by Saint Benedict
Italian, active ca. 1440 - 1480
King Totila Blessed by Saint Benedict, ca.1451
Tempera and gold on panel
24.1 x 35.2 x 7 cm (9 1/2 x 13 7/8 x 2 3/4 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 22.101
This painting was part of a narrative sequence set into the lower section of a painted altarpiece. It shows Saint Benedict (ca. 480–547), the founder of western monasticism, blessing a repentant Totila, the king of the Ostrogoths in Italy. Totila’s courtiers wear sumptuous 15th-century Florentine costume, in stark contrast to the austere monastic robes of Saint Benedict and his sister, Saint Scholastica, who stands behind him. The landscape, dotted with neighboring hill towns, recalls the region around Monte Cassino, the Benedictine monastery southeast of Rome. The altarpiece, now lost, was commissioned for the church of Saint Benedict in Norcia (Umbria), the saint’s birthplace.