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The Ascension
Michel Sittow

A host of Christ's followers gather on a hilltop to witness his ascension into heaven. As the group watches from below, Christ's feet disappear into an opening in the clouds.

The biblical account of Christ's ascension is minimal and does not name individual witnesses. Here, the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist are recognisable as the central characters. Mary Magdalene is the more sumptuously dressed woman in gold and Saint Peter is the figure in white in the foreground.

'The Ascension' was part of a series of 47 devotional panels painted for the Catholic Queen Isabella of Castile, showing scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin. Only 27 of these now survive, the majority of which are thought to have been painted by Juan de Flandes or his studio. They include 'Christ appearing to the Virgin'.

Key facts
Artist Michel Sittow
Artist dates 1468/9-1525/6
Full title The Ascension
Date made 1500-2
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 22 × 16.5 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from a private collection
Inventory number L1002
Location in Gallery Room 64
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