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The Presentation in the Temple
Master of the Life of the Virgin
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A priest, Simeon, receives the infant Christ from the Virgin Mary, ready to perform the Jewish rite of circumcision. Two women cup turtle doves in their hands, the traditional offering for the ritual of purification, made after a woman had given birth (Luke 2: 21–24).

Simeon recognised Christ’s divinity on seeing him, saying ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation’ (Luke 2: 29–30). The embroidery on his cope shows the Roman Emperor Augustus having a vision of the Virgin and Child – an experience which made him recognise that their spiritual power was greater than his.

This painting, along with three other images now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, once formed part of the central panel of an altarpiece made for the church of Saint Ursula in Cologne. It was commissioned by Dr Johann von Hirtz, a councillor in the city.

Key facts
Artist Master of the Life of the Virgin
Artist dates active second half of the 15th century
Full title The Presentation in the Temple
Date made probably about 1460-75
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 83.8 x 108.6 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Queen Victoria at the Prince Consort's wish, 1863
Inventory number NG706
Location in Gallery Room 62
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