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Marco Marziale, The Circumcision

Key facts
Full title The Circumcision
Artist Marco Marziale
Artist dates active about 1492 - about 1507
Date made 1500
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 223.4 × 152.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1869
Inventory number NG803
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Circumcision
Marco Marziale

A crowd clusters around an altar in a church filled with mosaics. On the right, a bearded priest wields a knife; on the left the Virgin Mary holds the Christ Child. Behind her is her husband Saint Joseph, holding a pair of doves. This is the circumcision of Christ, as described in the Gospel of Luke (2: 21–30).

This large and highly decorative picture was commissioned in 1500 for the church of San Silvestro in Cremona by the Venetian jurist and poet Tommaso Raimondi. He is shown in profile on the far right, wearing a luxurious red robe. His wife, Doralice Cambiago, faces him on the far left.

The artist signed and dated the painting on the cartellino (a piece of parchment or paper depicted within the painting) attached to the front of the altar. He was Venetian, and the painting’s composition echoes The Circumcision by the Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini (also in the National Gallery’s collection). The mosaic vaults reflect Venetian church decoration.

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