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Probably by Gregorio di Cecco di Luca, 'The Marriage of the Virgin', about 1423

Key facts
Full title The Marriage of the Virgin
Artist Probably by Gregorio di Cecco di Luca
Artist dates documented 1389; died 1428?
Date made about 1423
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 41 × 33.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1890
Inventory number NG1317
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Marriage of the Virgin
Probably by Gregorio di Cecco di Luca

This Virgin Mary’s marriage to Joseph is told in the Golden Legend, a thirteenth-century compilation of the lives of the saints. Mary’s suitors were invited to the temple, each armed with a wooden rod. The man whose rod bloomed would win her hand in marriage.

Here, Joseph holds a rod that is lush with olive leaves, the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove nestled in its branches – a sign of divine approval. Behind him unsuccessful suitors break their barren rods in frustration.

The picture was once part of a predella, a horizontal series of images running along the bottom of an altarpiece. Gregorio was from Siena, a city dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the division of the picture into three follows the pattern set by artists who painted scenes from the Virgin’s life for the city’s cathedral in the mid-1340s.

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