2012: Advent Art History: Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar – December 12

by on December 12, 2012

Central panel of the St Lucy Altarpiece

Domenico Veneziano

1445-47

Tempera on panel

209 x 216 cm

This kind of painting is called a sacra conversazione (sacred conversation) because the Virgin and Child inhabit the same perspectival space as the saints; the architecture and space within the painting have been modelled according to the principles of single point perspective. At the time, mathematically calculated single point perspective was quite a new thing, and was very popular in Florentine art.

The saints are, from left to right: Saint Francis, John the Baptist, Saint Zenobius (first Bishop of Florence, here depicted in contemporary ecclesiastical garb), and St Lucy.

This panel is only the central panel of the altarpiece, which also included a predella, which is a series of smaller panles with related scenes displayed along the bottom of the altarpiece. The predella of this work shows scenes from the lives of the saints depicted in the main panel (see, here for John and Baptist and the Martyrdom of St Lucy panel). These panels are currently scattered around the world in different museums, so seeing the altarpiece as it was originally intended to be displayed is quite difficult.

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