High Altar of the Church of San Tomaso Cantuariense in Padua -- A Genuine Example of Noble Simplicity

The high altar of the church of San Tomaso Cantuariense in Padua, which dates to the first half of the eighteenth century, presents a very good example of an elegant altar and altarpiece coming from within the counter-reformation tradition. As such, it features a very large exposition throne which allows the altar crucifix to be in place most of the time, but replaced with a monstrance for Eucharistic adoration at other times.  

The altarpiece also includes tiered gradines, meant to hold both the altar candlesticks, but also reliquaries and floral arrangements on feasts. 

Also of note are the two adoring angels, which were the last additions to the altarpiece, which were added in 1744 and done by the artist Antonio Bonazza -- made possible by the patronage of the last Doge of Venice. 

The face of the altar proper, as well as the pavement of the predella, include beautiful green marbles. Those on the predella are set in an illusionistic, three dimensional pattern, and those on the altar itself culminating in a simple but very classic central cross. 

The entire complex is both noble, beautiful and rather clean and simple in its design. To that end, it is, to my mind, an example of noble simplicity -- which, we must always recall, must never be mistook for minimalism. Indeed, this sort of work is very much the type of thing that the originator of this concept, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, had in mind when in 1755 he spoke of the "noble simplicity and quiet grandeur of Greek statues," advocating the imitation of the classical style. 

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