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Luca Signorelli, Predella: Esther, and Life of Saint Jerome

Key facts
Full title Esther before Ahasuerus, and Three Episodes from the Life of Saint Jerome
Artist Luca Signorelli
Artist dates about 1440/50 - 1523
Date made about 1519-22
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 29.5 × 212.5 cm
Acquisition credit Mond Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG3946
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Predella: Esther, and Life of Saint Jerome
Luca Signorelli

This long rectangular panel was made as a predella, the lowest tier of an altarpiece, and was commissioned by the Company of Saint Jerome for their church in Arezzo. The main panel, now in the Museo Civico, Arezzo, shows the Virgin Mary with symbols that refer to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which states that she was conceived without sin.

The central scene shows Esther appealing to her husband, the Persian king Ahasuerus, to put a stop to his advisor Haman’s plans to massacre the Jews, an intervention which made her a hero (Esther 8: 3–6). Esther is here singled out by Ahasuerus, a gesture that is seen as a forerunner to the Virgin Mary being chosen by God to be born free from sin. The surrounding scenes show Saint Jerome, who appeared in the visions of various clerics after his death.

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