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The Ascension: Upper Tier Panel
Jacopo di Cione and workshop
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This panel, which comes from an altarpiece made for the church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence, belongs to a sequence of narrative scenes showing events from Christ’s birth, the Resurrection and Ascension. These sat above the three panels of the main tier showing the coronation of the Virgin surrounded by adoring saints.

Christ is shown ascending to heaven, and his movement and the radiance of his resurrected body are expressed by the golden rays that he emanates. Incised into the gold-leaf background, these would have glimmered in the church’s candlelight, making the image appear all the more extraordinary. He is accompanied by angels playing musical instruments, a detail that encouraged the viewer to imagine the sounds of the heavenly music.

Key facts
Artist Jacopo di Cione and workshop
Artist dates documented 1365; died 1398 -1400
Full title The Ascension: Upper Tier Panel
Group The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece
Date made 1370-1
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 95.5 x 49 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG577
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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