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Panels from an Altarpiece

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These two pairs of saints were originally the side panels for an altarpiece painted by the Vivarinis, a Venetian family of artists working in the second half of the fifteenth century. The central panel, showing the Virgin and Child enthroned, is now in the Museo di San Tommaso Becket Martire in Padua, although the altarpiece was made for the church of San Moisè in Venice.

The saints are identified by inscriptions and by their attributes – symbolic objects associated with them. They are Saints Peter, Jerome, Francis and Mark. They stand on a pedestal, a detail common in sculpture but in Venetian painting used only by the Vivarinis.

Although the altar was a triptych (a painting in three parts) with panels set in a gilded frame, the ornately shaped stone pedestal would have run along all three panels, and the balustrade behind them connected with the Virgin’s throne – the figures seem to exist in the same space.

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