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Two Panels from the S. Maria dei Crociferi Altarpiece

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Two monumental saints – Mark and Sebastian – stand in niches topped with shell-like arches. They must originally have formed the outer wings of a multi-panelled altarpiece. We don't know where they originally came from, but in the seventeenth century two panels were recorded in the church of the Crociferi, Venice, where they flanked an image of the Annunciation by Cima (State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg). They do not seem to have belonged together, however: the Annunciation is taller, quite different in composition and painted on cloth rather than wood.

It is possible that they came from an altarpiece which was part sculpted and part painted, like the one Cima da Conegliano painted for the parish church of Olera, near Bergamo. Its painted panels show standing saints, and they flank a carved and coloured statue of Saint Bartholomew in a shell-shaped niche.

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