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Fra Filippo Lippi: 'Saint Bernard's Vision of the Virgin'

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It is difficult to identify the incident represented in this painting. One possible explanation is that it is intended to illustrate the dialogue between the Virgin and Saint Bernard about Christ's Passion as told in Saint Bernard's book: 'Liber de Passione Christi et doloribus et planctibus matris ejus' (Book of the Passion of Christ and the Sorrows and Lamentations of his Mother). Saint Bernard (1090 - 1153; often called Bernard of Clairvaux) was one of the founders of the Cistercian Order. In this painting two Cistercian monks look on from the background.

The shape of the panel would be suitable for a position above a door. It is possible that this work came from the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, where there was a payment for an overdoor recorded in 1447.

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