The Crucified Christ between the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist

Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 952

Lorenzo Monaco, the leading painter in Florence during the early fifteenth century, was equally gifted as an illuminator of books, a painter of frescoes, altarpieces and devotional paintings. This panel likely formed the central pinnacle of a multi-tiered altarpiece, perhaps that portraying the Madonna and Child with Saints Domninus, John the Baptist, Peter, and Anthony Abbot (Museo Diocesano, Empoli). In depicting the Crucifixion, the artist has excluded the numerous figures traditionally incorporated into the narrative, such as the crowds of soldiers, the mourning Holy Women, and the Thieves, thereby reducing the composition to include only the Virgin and Saint John. Contemplating Christ’s sacrifice, they are portrayed seated on the ground, for compositional or dramatic effect. Their relatively large size compared to the figure of Christ may relate to their roles as intercessors for the viewer, emphasizing the devotional aspect of the work.

The Crucified Christ between the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist, Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) (Italian, Florence (?) ca. 1370–1425 Florence (?)), Tempera on wood, gold ground

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