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Altarpiece from S. Francesco dei Zoccolanti, Matelica

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This large altarpiece was painted by Carlo Crivelli in 1491 for a family chapel in the Franciscan church in Matelica, a small town in the Italian Marches. The Ottoni were the local ruling family – you can see their coat of arms placed conspicuously on the bottom edge of the main panel.

The location heavily influenced the altarpiece’s design. The Ottoni chapel was tall and needed a tall altarpiece: including the frame and predella (the bottom tier) the painting is approximately 2.5 metres high. There was a large window on the back wall of the chapel – which was unusual – so the altar and altarpiece had to be on the side walls. This painting was on the left wall; the light in it comes from the upper right, mimicking the actual light in the chapel.

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