European Art: 14th-16th Centuries

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Scenes in the Life of Christ with Patron Saints (15 Scenes), c. 1300

Venetian School

Italian
Tempera and gold leaf on panel
16-3/8 x 26-3/8 in. (41.6 x 67 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1965.1.020.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

This dossal—a panel placed above and behind an altar—is a precious example of early Venetian painting. The rationale for its layout and theological context remains to be discovered, but all of the scenes are recognizable. Though the Crucifixion traditionally occupies the center of a panel, here it is one of four episodes that surround the Flagellation. Pairs of saints, many of whom are female, witness the events, save for the Annunciation at the upper left and right corners. St. Francis receiving the Stigmata is the sole narrative that does not treat the life of Christ. The inscription that accompanies it is drawn from a prayer of penitence: “a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17). This episode, along with the portrayal of a Poor Clare from the Franciscan Order of nuns, may indicate that a Franciscan patron commissioned the panel.

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