It is probable that this scene was the last of the seven scenes from the life of Christ that formed part of a long rectangular altarpiece, painted on a single plank of wood. The altarpiece may have been made for a Franciscan church at Rimini or Sansepolcro.
'Pentecost' represents the twelve apostles gathered together after Christ's Ascension into Heaven. The Holy Spirit is shown descending on them in the form of a dove and tongues of fire, granting them the power to speak in many languages (Acts 2: 3). In the foreground, men from different nations marvel at hearing the apostles' words in their own language.
All seven pieces of the altarpiece still exist. The other six scenes are the 'Nativity with Epiphany' (Metropolitan Museum, New York); the 'Presentation in the Temple' (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston); the 'Last Supper' and the 'Crucifixion' (both Alte Pinakothek, Munich); the 'Entombment' (Berenson Collection, Settignano); and the 'Descent into Limbo' (Alte Pinakothek, Munich).