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Pietro Orioli, The Nativity with Saints Altarpiece

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The Nativity with Saints Altarpiece


The Christ Child lies naked and glowing in the centre of the main panel of this arched altarpiece, adored by his parents and four saints. More saints stand in the pilasters. Recent research has identified the original location of this altarpiece as a small chapel in the castle of Cerreto Ciampoli, around 13 km to the north of Siena.

In the late fifteenth century, the patronage of the chapel was in the hands of the Cerretani, who took their name from the castle; the coats of arms of a particular branch of the family appear on the predella (the part of an altarpiece below the main level). The saints included reflect the dedication of the chapel and the interests of the family.

For many years this painting was thought to be by Giacomo Pacchiarotto (who died in 1539/40), but is now attributed to Pietro Orioli, one of the most progressive of Sienese Renaissance painters.