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The Virgin and Child Enthroned
Domenico Veneziano
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This is the central part of a painting done in fresco (painting directly on wet plaster) on the outside wall of a house in Florence. It was flanked by two saints, whose heads – the only surviving parts – are also in the National Gallery’s collection.

The grand, simple design and colours were ideal for an image that would be seen from below. The high arms of the throne project outwards towards us, framing the Virgin Mary and Christ; God the Father swoops in above and, with arms outstretched, presents them. Golden rays from his mouth pour onto the dove, the symbol of the Holy Ghost. All three members of the Trinity (God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost) are represented here.

This was Domenico’s first work in Florence. He may have been impressed by the Florentine painter Massacio’s famous fresco of the Trinity in the nearby church of Santa Maria Novella, which is also set within a fictive grey-stone arch.

Key facts
Artist Domenico Veneziano
Artist dates active 1438; died 1461
Full title The Virgin and Child Enthroned
Series Carnesecchi Tabernacle
Date made about 1440-4
Medium and support Fresco, transferred to canvas
Dimensions 241 x 120.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by the 26th Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, 1886
Inventory number NG1215
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Carnesecchi Tabernacle

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These three fragments painted in fresco (painting directly onto wet plaster) come from the outside of a house in Florence. They were removed in the mid-nineteenth century. They were part of a street tabernacle, a large outdoor altarpiece, painted high on a wall. It included a pair of full-length standing saints – only the heads remain – that would have surrounded the central image of the Virgin and Child enthroned.

This painting was on a house built by a member of the Carnesecchi family, who owned several properties in the area; the street was called the Canto de' Carnesecchi. This was a very visible spot on the route of religious processions in the city.

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