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Giovanni dal Ponte, The Trinity: Centre Pinnacle

Key facts
Full title The Trinity: Centre Pinnacle
Artist Giovanni dal Ponte
Artist dates about 1385 - 1437
Group Ascension of John the Evangelist Altarpiece
Date made about 1420-4?
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 65.5 × 33.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG580.10
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Trinity: Centre Pinnacle
Giovanni dal Ponte

God the Father, seated on a cloud, holds a cross with the crucified Christ. The dove of the Holy Ghost hovers between them. Together they are known as the Trinity, the three elements which make up the Christian God. This kind of Trinity was especially suitable for an altarpiece: it emphasises Christ’s sacrifice to save humanity, and God’s acceptance of it.

This panel comes from the top of a large polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) painted in the early 1420s by the Florentine painter Giovanni dal Ponte. The altarpiece was meant for the high altar of the church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Pratovecchio near Florence. Other panels from it are also in the National Gallery’s collection – it’s one of the few almost complete early Renaissance altarpieces in the collection.

The pigment used for God the Father’s robe – azurite – has darkened over time; it would originally have been brighter.

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Ascension of John the Evangelist Altarpiece


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.