Justice enthroned between St. Felice and St. Fortunato

The tryptic with golden background Justice enthroned between St. Felice and St. Fortunato (75x100 cm.) by Ercole Del Fiore (1436)

The inscription on the lower part of the painting certifies its ordering by Felice Olivotto, who coming from an old family which, until the second half of the 1300s, were the owners of the salt pans of Chioggia.
Many members of this dynasty had held on more than one occasion public and administrative office.
The iconography in this painting which depicts Justice between the patron saints of Chioggia refers to an institutional legal role.
The tryptic comes from the Palazzo Minicipale and recalls a similar subject from the Palazzo Ducal in Venice, a work by Jacobello del Fiore. The images of the three persons enclosed in wooden archlets are within a vegetable and notch motif frame, realised during restoration work in 1923. Justice in the centre appears in majesty with all the relevant iconographic attributes, at her sides the martyr saints with the palm of martyrdom.
There are evident stylistic differences and technical qualities which distinguish the face and hands, a work of exquisite excellence, from the summary execution of the clothes, the inconsistencies of the bodies and a lack of expressiveness in other areas. This is certainly a collaboration between maestro and apprentices of the studio. Following the ancient tradition, Justice's expression is one of supreme perfection accentuation her identity as that of Divine Justice.
To the sides, the Protecting Saints denote with their presence a sort of divine allegation to the law. Their martyrdom appears as an example of Justice as victory of Faith over paganism, having fought for the Divine Cause.
The figures reveal a stylistic and expressive language suspended somewhere between the gothic tradition and a desire to achieve something more simple, less decorative in line with the Tuscan styles being used in and around Padua.


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