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Nardo di Cione, Three Saints

Key facts
Full title Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist (?) and Saint James
Artist Nardo di Cione
Artist dates documented 1343-6; died 1365-6
Date made about 1363-5
Medium and support Egg tempera on poplar
Dimensions 159.5 × 148 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG581
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Three Saints
Nardo di Cione

Saint John the Baptist – who, according to the Bible, wandered the desert preaching about Jesus – is shown in the centre of this panel. He carries a scroll with his declaration of the coming of Christ: ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Lord’. He stands between Saint John the Evangelist and Saint James, who clutches a pilgrim’s staff. Nardo has contrasted the saints‘ simplicity with the lavish textile – dotted with carnations, vine tendrils and birds – on which they stand.

The picture was made for a ’hospital church' in Florence – that is, a church connected to a hospital – dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The hospital was, in this case, run by the Knights Hospitaller, a religious order with a military function and a tradition of caring for the sick. They were also known as the Knights of Saint John after their patron saint.

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