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Luca Signorelli, 'The Virgin and Child with Saints', 1515

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saints
Artist Luca Signorelli
Artist dates about 1440/50 - 1523
Date made 1515
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 265 × 193 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1901
Inventory number NG1847
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child with Saints
Luca Signorelli

This large painting of the Virgin Mary surrounded by saints was part of an altarpiece. It was made for a chapel dedicated to Saint Christina of Bolsena in the church of San Francesco in Montone, in the Italian region of Umbria.

A large stone hangs from a rope looped round Christina’s neck, as a reminder that she was weighted down and thrown into a river in punishment for her Christian faith. She survived this, but was eventually killed. Saint Sebastian stands to the other side of the Virgin, while Saint Jerome, his cardinal’s hat by his feet, and Saint Nicholas of Bari, wearing his bishop’s robes and hat, stand on the ground.

This kind of altarpiece, where the saints and the Virgin and Child occupy one panel and are located in a unified imaginary setting, is called a sacra conversazione (‘holy conversation’).

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