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Pentecost: Upper Tier Panel
Jacopo di Cione and workshop
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At Pentecost, after Christ’s death, his disciples were imbued with the Holy Ghost, shown here as a dove. Tongues of fire appeared on their heads and they were able to speak multiple languages.

The disciples are seated in a circle in the upper storey of a house, with the Virgin Mary and Saint Peter in the centre. We can see red flames – tongues of fire – on their heads. On the street below, people wearing different types of clothing and hats listen in at the door. They represent the Jews from all different nations, who gathered to hear the disciples speaking in their languages.

This panel comes from a large altarpiece made for the Florentine church of San Pier Maggiore. Saint Peter’s central position reflects the church’s dedication to him. This panel formed the last picture in a series of narratives of Christ’s life and death that was situated above the altarpiece’s main tier.

Key facts
Artist Jacopo di Cione and workshop
Artist dates documented 1365; died 1398 -1400
Full title Pentecost: Upper Tier Panel
Group The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece
Date made 1370-1
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 96 x 49.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG578
Location in Gallery Room 60
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The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece

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These images come from a large, four-tiered altarpiece created for the high altar of the choir of the church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence. It was made up of a number of separate panels, most of which are now in the National Gallery’s collection.

Although only the facade of the church remains today, it was one of the oldest and most important religious institutions in Florence when this altarpiece was made. It was founded by the first bishop of Florence, Saint Zenobius, in the fifth century. The picture formed the backdrop to one of the ceremonies relating to the ordination of each bishop of Florence until the late sixteenth century.

The altarpiece was most probably commissioned by the wealthy Florentine Albizzi family and many of its saints relate to their family or their trade as wool merchants. The central images showed the coronation of the Virgin by Christ surrounded by adoring saints – a highly popular image in Florence.

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