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Dalmatian/Venetian, Two Apostles (Saints Simon and Thomas)

Key facts
Full title Two Apostles (Saints Simon and Thomas)
Artist Dalmatian/Venetian
Group Altarpiece of the Virgin Mary
Date made about 1400
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 13.8 × 29.6 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by H.E. Luxmoore, 1927
Inventory number NG4250.8
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Two Apostles (Saints Simon and Thomas)

This panel is a section of a predella, the lowest part of an altarpiece. The main panels of the altarpiece show the Virgin and Child and narrative scenes of the lives of saints. The predella originally showed Christ surrounded the 12 apostles, his followers who preached his message after his death, but it was cut into three some time before it entered the National Gallery’s collection.

This section is from the far right of the predella. It shows Saint Simon, on the left, with Saint Thomas. The inscription to the left of Saint Simon identifies him. The inscription between the two would have identified Saint Thomas but it is now badly damaged.

Saint Thomas is shown as a young man, clean shaven with short hair, while Saint Simon has a thick, short white beard. Both hold scrolls and gesture animatedly.

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Altarpiece of the Virgin Mary


This altarpiece is a unique example in the National Gallery’s collection of a work made by a late medieval artist working on both sides of the Adriatic, the sea between Italy and the Balkan coast. The picture may be one of the earliest painted representations of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (the Virgin being conceived without sin). This was a controversial idea in this period. It was not officially included in Catholic theology until the nineteenth century, but it was celebrated in the fifteenth century, on 8 December.

The central panel showing the Virgin and Child includes celestial bodies – the sun, moon and stars – that became associated with the Immaculate Conception. The left side panels show the story of the Virgin’s miraculous birth to a couple who could not have children; the right side panels shows two miracles of the Virgin.