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The Death of Saint Benedict: Predella Panel
Lorenzo Monaco

This panel is one of three in the Collection which were probably part of the predella of an altarpiece of the Coronation of the Virgin, commissioned for the Camaldolese monastery of San Benedetto fuori della Porta Pinti, Florence. They illustrate the life of Saint Benedict (about 480 - 547) whose rule the Camaldolese monks followed, and to whom their monastery in Florence was dedicated.

In 'The Death of Saint Benedict' the saint is shown lying on his deathbed or funeral bier. At the top of the panel, his soul is lifted into heaven from a green pall illuminated with torches.

Key facts
Artist Lorenzo Monaco
Artist dates active 1399; died 1423 or 1424
Full title The Death of Saint Benedict: Predella Panel
Group San Benedetto Altarpiece
Date made 1407-9
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 28.5 × 51.8 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from a private collection
Inventory number L2
Location in Gallery Room 60
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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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