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Jacopo di Cione and workshop, The Adoration of the Kings: Upper Tier Panel

Key facts
Full title The Adoration of the Kings: Upper Tier Panel
Artist Jacopo di Cione and workshop
Artist dates documented 1365; died 1398 -1400
Series The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece
Date made 1370-1
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 95.5 × 49.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG574
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Adoration of the Kings: Upper Tier Panel
Jacopo di Cione and workshop

This panel is the second in a series of scenes of the life of Christ, part of a multi-panelled altarpiece made for the church of San Pier Maggiore, Florence. This sequence ran above the altarpiece’s main tier, which showed the coronation of the Virgin surrounded by adoring saints.

We see three kings followed by their courtly entourage – complete with horses and camels – paying homage to the infant Christ. The kings in their colourful robes kneel before the baby, one cradling his little foot, about to kiss it. They offer him gifts: small jars containing, according to the Gospel accounts, gold and the spices frankincense and myrhh. The kings had a special importance in Florence, as they shared their feast day (6 January) with the city’s patron saint, John the Baptist.

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The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece


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.