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Carlo Crivelli, The Virgin and Child with Saints Francis and Sebastian

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saints Francis and Sebastian
Artist Carlo Crivelli
Artist dates about 1430/5 - about 1494
Date made 1491
Medium and support Egg and oil on poplar
Dimensions 175.3 × 151.1 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Presented by Elizabeth Mary, widow of the second Marquess of Westminster, 1870
Inventory number NG807
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child with Saints Francis and Sebastian
Carlo Crivelli

This painting, showing the Virgin and Child enthroned between Saints Francis and Sebastian, was the central panel of an altarpiece made for a family chapel in the Franciscan church at Fabriano, in the Italian Marches. At Francis’s foot, a stout little figure in widow’s dress is being presented to the Virgin Mary: she is Oradea Becchetti, who founded the chapel. Images of the Virgin and saints were popular on altarpieces, as medieval Christians believed that they could intercede with God on behalf of sinful humanity at the Last Judgement.

Oradea was clearly proud of her commission: the inscription along the front states that she paid for the altar and the painting ‘at no small expense of her own money’. The saints, who would have been chosen by Oradea and her spiritual advisers, reflect her and their interests. Francis was the founder of the Franciscan order and patron of the church, and Sebastian was a soldier and protector against the plague.

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