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Saint Benedict admitting Saints into the Order
Lorenzo Monaco
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A bearded and venerable Saint Benedict admits two disciples, Maurus and Placidus, to his newly founded religious order, while a group of monks look on. They were young Roman noblemen who were sent to Saint Benedict to be educated and became two of his earliest followers.

Although members the Benedictine Order wore black, here they are dressed in the white habits of the Camaldolese Order, as this panel was painted for them. It comes from the predella, or lowest tier, of a large polyptych (a multi-panelled altarpiece) painted for a church just outside Florence. Saint Benedict was the patron saint of this church, and the small scenes in the predella show episodes from this life.

Key facts
Artist Lorenzo Monaco
Artist dates active 1399; died 1423 or 1424
Full title Saint Benedict admitting Saints Maurus and Placidus into the Benedictine Order: Predella Panel
Group San Benedetto Altarpiece
Date made 1407-9
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 28.8 x 38.8 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Henry Wagner, 1912
Inventory number NG2862
Location in Gallery Gallery A: Paintings 1250-1600
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San Benedetto Altarpiece

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A glorious, glowing, multi-coloured company of saints and angels surround Christ and his mother as he delicately places a golden crown on her head, making her Queen of Heaven. This huge polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) was painted for the high altar of the monastery of San Benedetto fuori della Porta Pinti in Florence. It was originally even bigger: its main panels are in the National Gallery, but other parts are scattered in collections across the world.

The Camaldolites (a religious order founded in 1012) were famous for their strict lifestyle, although they lived among great visual riches. The monastery’s register records how it was commissioned by a Florentine citizen, Luca Pieri Rinieri Berri, who was to pay almost the entire cost. In recompense his name was painted on the altarpiece – a few letters can be made out on the grey step of dais – so that he would be remembered in the monks' prayers.

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