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The Archangel Gabriel: Left Pinnacle
Giovanni dal Ponte
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This kneeling angel holding a lily is part of an Annunciation scene – this was the moment the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive the Son of God. The lily is symbolic of the Virgin’s chastity.

He comes from the top of the left panel of a large polyptych (an altarpiece made up of many panels) which was painted in Florence in the 1420s by Giovanni dal Ponte for the high altar of the church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Pratovecchio.

Completing the scene on the top of the right panel of the altarpiece is The Virgin Annunciate. Between the two, on top of the central panel, is the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. This combination was a common choice of scenes for pinnacles in early fifteenth-century Italy.

Key facts
Artist Giovanni dal Ponte
Artist dates about 1385 - 1437
Full title The Archangel Gabriel: Left Pinnacle
Group Ascension of John the Evangelist Altarpiece
Date made about 1420-4?
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 66.1 x 30.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG580.9
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Ascension of John the Evangelist Altarpiece

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This large, gilded polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) is one of the few almost complete early Renaissance altarpieces in the National Gallery’s collection. It was made for the church of San Giovanni Evangelista, in Pratovecchio, Tuscany, probably in the 1420s.

Altarpieces on the high altar had to show the saint to whom the church was dedicated. Here, in the centre panel, we see Saint John the Evangelist being raised to heaven by Christ. A crowd of saints seems to watch from the large panels on either side.

The nuns at Pratovecchio were Camaldolites – a small, strict religious order found mainly in Italy – and the saints on the altarpiece would have been those who were important to them. This is one of the few surviving paintings of this date which might well have been commissioned by women – two abbesses – for the use of women.

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