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Spinello Aretino, Two Haloed Mourners

Key facts
Full title Two Haloed Mourners: Fragment from the 'Burial of Saint John the Baptist'
Artist Spinello Aretino
Artist dates born 1345-52; died 1410
Date made about 1387-91
Medium and support Fresco
Dimensions 51.3 × 51.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1856
Inventory number NG276
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Two Haloed Mourners
Spinello Aretino

This is a fragment of a painting in fresco, a technique that involved painting directly onto fresh plaster. It has been repainted and only a layer of tin remains on the haloes, which may originally have been gilded.

It formed part of an image showing the burial of Saint John the Baptist; here, two of the saint’s disciples bow their heads in grief, gazing sorrowfully upon his body. Saint John was beheaded on the orders of King Herod, who had offered his stepdaughter Salome whatever she desired. Influenced by her mother, she asked for John’s head.

The painting decorated the wall of the Manetti chapel in the Florentine church of Santa Maria del Carmine, along with other large scenes depicting the life of the saint. The series of frescoes were destroyed but 11 fragments – cut from the wall by the English artist Thomas Patch – survive in other European collections.

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