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Three Panels from an Altarpiece, Certosa

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Perugino painted this altarpiece for the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. It stood in the side chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael in the Carthusian monastery (also known as a charterhouse or certosa) in Pavia, a town outside Milan. The Duke was captured by invading French forces in 1499, and the altarpiece was completed in the early sixteenth century by two other painters: Fra Bartolommeo and Mariotto Albertinelli.

Our panels formed the lower tier of two in this large-scale construction. The upper tier showed the Annunciation: the Archangel Gabriel, on one panel, giving the Virgin Mary, on another panel, the news that she would conceive the son of God. Between these panels was an image of God in glory, which is still in the church.

The painting shows Perugino’s skill in working with oil paint. Because oil paint dries slowly, it is possible to blend different tones together to create subtle transitions, particularly evident here in the figures' flesh – their cheeks, for example, have a rosy blush.

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