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Paula Rego’s ‘Crivelli’s Garden’ tells the story of women from biblical history and folklore based on paintings in the collection and stories from the Golden Legend.

Figures including the Virgin Mary, Saint Catherine, Mary Magdalene and Delilah are in Rego's re-imagined garden surrounded by Portuguese blue and white tiled walls.

The images of these courageous and strong women were based on the people that Rego knew, including friends, family and members of the National Gallery staff at the time. 

Who's who in Crivelli's Garden

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Shaded in blue in the images below are the National Gallery staff, mythological subjects and saints in Rego's garden. Find a short description of each one below.

Crivelli as inspiration

The mural’s concept and structure were triggered by the predella panel of Carlo Crivelli’s altarpiece La Madonna della Rondine (The Madonna of the Swallow; after 1490) made for S. Francesco dei Zoccolanti, Matelica (a small town in the Marches, Italy).

Each of the five scenes of the panel is dedicated to a saint. Flanked at either end with depictions of Saint Catherine and Saint George, the stories of the Nativity, Saint Jerome and Saint Sebastian are shown in scenes with acute linear perspectives. Rego imagined a world in which Crivelli’s saints would co-exist within the same space and so decided to create her own version of the garden.

Learn more about the predella and its altarpiece and zoom into the details.

Paula Rego
Crivelli's Garden
20 July ‒ 29 October 2023
Explore the relationship between Dame Paula Rego’s monumental painting and the 15th-century altarpiece and National Gallery staff that inspired it
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