The Ascension

1500-2, Michel Sittow

On loan from a private collection, © Private collection
A host of Christ's followers gather on a hilltop to witness his ascension into heaven. As the group watches from below, Christ's feet disappear into an opening in the clouds.

The biblical account of Christ's ascension is minimal and does not name individual witnesses. Here, the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist are recognisable as the central characters. Mary Magdalene is the more sumptuously dressed woman in gold and Saint Peter is the figure in white in the foreground.

'The Ascension' was part of a series of 47 devotional panels painted for the Catholic Queen Isabella of Castile, showing scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin. Only 27 of these now survive, the majority of which are thought to have been painted by Juan de Flandes or his studio. They include 'Christ appearing to the Virgin'.

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