Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints

The painting is divided into four narrative scenes, each of which depicts episodes from the lives of holy figures key to late Medieval Christian devotion: the apotheosis or raising into heaven of Saint Augustine; the Coronation of the Virgin; Saint Catherine of Alexandria disputing with the philosophers; Saint Francis receiving the stigmata, and Saint John the Baptist in the wilderness. The combination of these iconographic episodes is unusual, and probably reflects the patron’s specific requests.

This picture is exquisitely and delicately painted. It reflects the monumental and expressive compositions of the innovative Florentine painter Giotto, as well as a reverence for Byzantine artistic forms. Fine details include the gilding adorning the robes of the Virgin Mary and other sacred figures, and the foreshortened angels, seen from behind, who watch Christ crown his mother Mary.

‘Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints’ appears to have been made as the left wing of a diptych, probably for private contemplation and worship by a wealthy and cultivated patron. The right wing of this object, ‘Scenes from the Life of Christ’, is in Rome (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini).

Key facts

Artist dates
active 1292 - 1336
Full title
Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints
Date made
Medium and support
Oil, tempera and gilding on wood
54.4 × 36.5 cm
Acquisition credit
Acquired with a generous donation from Ronald S. Lauder, 2015
Inventory number
Location in Gallery