Italian, ca. 1460–1535
St. Christopher is one of eight saints Lorenzo Costa painted in the late 1400s. The graceful figures originally flanked a central devotional image on a monumental altarpiece, likely in or near Bologna, Italy. The saints are identifiable by their attributes and by their names, which are inscribed underneath them in a northern Italian dialect. Devotees used this information to find the saints who were most relevant to their personal needs.
The staff and the Christ child on St. Christopher’s shoulders refer to a story in which he carried Christ across a river. These visual cues would have prompted travelers to pray to him for protection.