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The Virgin Mary with the Apostles and Other Saints
Probably by Fra Angelico
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This panel comes from the predella (the lowest part) of an altarpiece made for the church of San Domenico, Fiesole, near Florence. Its saints face right toward the central panel, which shows Christ in glory after his resurrection from the dead.

The Virgin kneels at the head of the top row of saints and raises her hands in prayer before Christ, her son. Behind her are two groups of saints; the apostle Peter, with a book and the keys of heaven promised to him by Christ, is next to her. Each saint is painted in great detail, their faces as individual as their costumes. They carry objects associated with their lives or the instruments of their death.

Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order of nuns and friars, is in the top row, wearing the Order’s black and white habit and carrying a lily, his symbol. The church that this panel was made for was in a Dominican convent.

Key facts
Artist Probably by Fra Angelico
Artist dates active 1417; died 1455
Full title The Virgin Mary with the Apostles and Other Saints: Inner Left Predella Panel
Group Fiesole San Domenico Altarpiece
Date made about 1423-4
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 32 x 64 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG663.2
Location in Gallery Room 60
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Fiesole San Domenico Altarpiece

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These panels come from the predella (lowest part) of the altarpiece made for the high altar of San Domenico, Fiesole. Fra Angelico was a Dominican friar (a member of the religious order founded by Saint Dominic) as well as a painter. The church was attached to his own convent – so although he made two other altarpieces for it, he was not paid for his work.

Predellas usually showed narrative scenes of the lives of the saints who were depicted in the main part of the altarpiece. This one is unusual: it shows Christ in glory in heaven, surrounded in the central scene by angels. This is framed by two panels showing rows of saints and Old Testament figures. These in turn are enclosed on either side by Dominican ‘Blessed’ figures who were holy and revered but not saints.

The mass of saints includes Dominicans and reflects their interest in the saints of their order and the place of the Dominicans in the broader church.

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