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Carlo Crivelli, The Vision of the Blessed Gabriele

Key facts
Full title The Vision of the Blessed Gabriele
Artist Carlo Crivelli
Artist dates about 1430/5 - about 1494
Date made probably about 1489
Medium and support Egg and oil on poplar
Dimensions 141 × 87 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1861
Inventory number NG668
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Vision of the Blessed Gabriele
Carlo Crivelli

This tall, narrow panel once hung over the tomb of a Franciscan holy man, the Blessed Gabriele Ferretti (d. 1456). Gabriele was Superior of the small convent of San Francesco in Alto outside Ancona in the Italian Marche. He was famous locally for his fervent piety and for his visions of the Virgin, who appears here floating in the sky in a golden mandorla (oval frame; literally ‘almond shaped’ in Italian).

The location impacted the painting’s shape and composition. It was hung around seven or eight feet above the ground, in the first left corner of the church – it would have been seen from below and to the right as you entered the building. The direction of the light, the sloping letters of Crivelli’s signature and the road’s strong slanting line all take account of this. Even the figure of Gabriele has been distorted: his head appears too large for his body when seen from straight on, but would have been correct when viewed from below.

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