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Two Panels from a Triptych

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These panels were once the wings of a small triptych (a painting in three parts), the centre panel of which – The Virgin and Child with Two Angels – is now in the Uffizi, Florence. The altarpiece was demonstrably in Florence by the end of the fifteenth century, as its landscape backgrounds were frequently copied by Florentine artists of the time.

This composition, with the Virgin and Child enthroned and flanked by standing saints, was a popular product of Hans Memling’s workshop. The Virgin, Christ and angels in the Uffizi painting reappear in several other works by him, including The Donne Triptych (also in the National Gallery’s collection).

On the outside of the wings nine beautifully painted cranes stand in a dark landscape beneath the coat of arms and emblems of the Pagagnotti family. The triptych’s first owner was almost certainly the high-ranking bishop Benedetto Pagagnotti, who used the crane and compasses as his emblem.

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