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Key facts
Full title Pentecost
Artist Barnaba da Modena
Artist dates active 1361 - 1386
Date made 1377 (?)
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 54.4 x 50.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1895
Inventory number NG1437
Location Room 51
Art route(s) A
Collection Main Collection
Barnaba da Modena

Christ’s disciples were gathered together 50 days after his death when, according to the Bible, a strong wind began to blow. Flames like ‘tongues of fire’ appeared on their heads and they were filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2: 1–4). This event, called Pentecost, was when the disciples were given the divine authority to preach about Christ and his message.

Here, the Holy Ghost is represented as a tiny white dove above the Virgin Mary’s head and we can see the double-tongued flames on the disciples' heads. It is very likely that it was one of a series of scenes that made up a larger work, probably a triptych (a picture made up of three panels). In the church of San Giovanni Battista in Alba there is a picture of the Virgin and Child signed by Barnaba di Modena and dated 1377. It may have been the central panel of this triptych.

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