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Panels from an Altarpiece

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These three panels once formed an altarpiece. The largest, which shows the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child, would have appeared at its centre. Saint Nicholas of Tolentino and a bishop saint would have appeared on the left of the central image, with Saints Bartholomew and Monica on the right. The inclusion of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, an Augustinian friar, and Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine, suggests that this altarpiece was made for an Augustinian foundation, perhaps the Florentine church of S. Spirito.

The panels have been linked to two others by Zanobi Machiavelli; while their compositions and gold backgrounds correspond, their shapes and sizes do not. A small panel showing a scene from the life of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) has also been suggested as part of the ensemble.

The shape and gold background would have appeared slightly old-fashioned by around 1470, when Zanobi Machiavelli painted this altarpiece.

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