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Saint John the Evangelist: Altarpiece Pinnacle (right)
Probably by Jacopo di Antonio (Master of Pratovecchio?)

A small saint, hands clasped and gazing at the ground, stands against a dark background, his face contorted in pain and distress. This is Saint John the Evangelist and he comes from a polyptych (a multi-panelled altarpiece) painted by Jacopo di Antonio in Florence in around 1450. It was made for a side altar in a nunnery in Pratovecchio, Tuscany. Several other panels from this altarpiece are also in the National Gallery’s collection. This one would have been at the top, to the right of a scene of the Crucifixion (now lost).

The background was probably originally burnished gold, like most early Renaissance altarpieces; it has been painted over with a dark colour.

Key facts
Artist Probably by Jacopo di Antonio (Master of Pratovecchio?)
Artist dates 1427 - 1454
Full title Saint John the Evangelist: Altarpiece Pinnacle (right)
Group Pratovecchio Altarpiece
Date made about 1450?
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 57 x 28 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG584.8
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Pratovecchio Altarpiece


This altarpiece is a polyptych (a multi-panelled altarpiece) but parts of it are missing. The two halves were not originally next to each other, but were on either side of a painting of the Assumption of the Virgin formerly in the church of San Giovanni Evangelista, in Pratovecchio, Tuscany.

The whole altarpiece once stood on a side altar in the Camaldolese nunnery of San Giovanni. Very unusually we know quite a lot about its commissioning. In June 1400 one Michele di Antonio Vaggi, a Camaldolese monk, made a will asking his mother Johanna to found a chapel at San Giovanni, for which she was to provide a ‘tavola picta’ (a painted altarpiece).

Both Johanna and Michele’s patron saints appear in the main panels, with Camaldolese saints in the pinnacles. This is presumably the altarpiece made for their family chapel, although it wasn't painted until the 1450s.