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Two Apostles (Saints Andrew and Thaddeus)
Dalmatian/Venetian
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This is one of three sections of a predella, the lowest part of an altarpiece. The main panels of the altarpiece show the Virgin and Child, surrounded by narrative scenes of the lives of the saints. The predella originally showed Christ at the centre with 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.

These two men, from the right part of the predella, are saints Andrew and Thaddeus. They are shown as old men with white beards, holding scrolls. The inscription in red between them is Thaddeus’s name: S. TADEV

Key facts
Artist Dalmatian/Venetian
Full title Two Apostles (Saints Andrew and Thaddeus)
Group Altarpiece of the Virgin Mary
Date made about 1400
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 13.8 x 26.4 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by H.E. Luxmoore, 1927
Inventory number NG4250.7
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Altarpiece of the Virgin Mary

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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.

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