Altarpiece of Saint Peter

about 1480


Maximum framed dimensions: 502.92 x 579.76 cm (198 x 228 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tempera on panel with parchment ground

Out on Loan

Out On Loan





The monumental scale of this elaborate work is typical of Spanish altarpieces of the period. The altarpiece comprises a complex arrangement of twenty-six paintings. Enthroned as pope and attended by cardinals, the majestic figure of Saint Peter is flanked by four scenes relating to his life. A depiction of Christ’s Crucifixion occupies its traditional place of honor in the central panel located directly above Saint Peter. To either side, the artist depicts events from the lives of the Virgin and St. Blaise, a fourth-century martyr. At some time in its history, the altarpiece was dismantled, but its components were reassembled in the present form in the nineteenth century.


Until 1904, Somzée Collection, Brussels; May 24 - June 11, 1904, Somzée sale, Galerie Fievez, Brussels, lot 529. By 1924 until at least 1925, private collection [see note 1]. 1928, with Wildenstein and Co., New York; 1928, sold by Wildenstein to William Randolph Hearst for the International Studio Corporation, New York [see note 2]; 1928 until at least 1939, International Studio Corporation. By 1946, Robert Hall McCormick; 1946, gift of Robert Hall McCormick, through Miss Elizabeth Day McCormick, to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 12, 1946)

[1] The altarpiece was lent by a private collector to the Archiepiscopal Museum, Utrecht, in 1924 and was still there in 1925, as discussed in "Het Gildeboek," 7 (October, 1924): pp. 96-97 and 8 (October, 1925): p. 83. [2] The International Studio Corporation was a Hearst-owned company that had the responsibility of uncrating, cataloguing, storing, and shipping art objects Mr. Hearst had purchased.

Credit Line

Gift of Robert Hall McCormick