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The Virgin: Left Pinnacle Panel
Giovanni da Milano
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This panel once formed part of the uppermost tier of a large altarpiece. It shows the Virgin Mary with her arms crossed in front of her, a gesture of humility. It was placed to the left of a central image of the Apocalyptic Christ, and opposite one of John the Baptist (both of these panels are also in the National Gallery’s collection).

The theme of the whole altarpiece was divine judgement at the apocalypse, as described in the Book of Revelation, the biblical text that describes the end of the world. John the Baptist and Mary might be paired here because they are both traditionally thought to intervene on behalf of humanity at the Last Judgement, the moment when Christ would judge mankind.

Key facts
Artist Giovanni da Milano
Artist dates documented 1346 - 1369
Full title The Virgin: Left Pinnacle Panel
Series Pinnacle Panels
Date made about 1365
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 89.3 x 37.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG579.7
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Pinnacle Panels

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The three panels belonged to an altarpiece that was possibly made for the church of San Salvatore al Vescovo, the Bishop of Florence’s church, located within the Palazzo Arcivescovile. They are pinnacle panels – those appearing at the top, crowning the altarpiece.

The central pinnacle shows the ‘Apocalyptic Christ’, the judge of humanity at the end of the world, according to the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1: 13–18). This would have been flanked by panels that show the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist, who turn inwards to look towards Christ. Both figures were traditionally seen as intercessors for humanity at this moment of judgement, making their presence here, surrounding Christ as judge, appropriate.

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