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Polyptych with Coronation of the Virgin and Saints
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Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni
Italian, about 1390s
Tempera on panel
140 x 91 3/4 in.
71.PB.31

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In the central panel of this opulent polyptych, Christ crowns his mother, the Virgin Mary, as gathered angels and saints look on. The altarpiece decorated a chapel dedicated to Saint Benedict in the Church of Santa Trinità, Florence, which explains why Saint Benedict is portrayed twice, on the left panel and again in a scene below.

The altarpiece's various panels do not depict episodes in chronological order. In the pinnacles above the central scene, which were added at a later date, the Archangel Gabriel announces the conception of Christ to the Virgin. Below, in the predella, or lowest panel, the Virgin's death is represented at the center. To either side are scenes of saints triumphing over evil. On the far left, Saint Benedict exorcises a devil, and in the panel to the right Saint John baptizes Christ. To the right of the Virgin's death, devils torment Saint Anthony, while on the far right Saint Lawrence liberates a soul from purgatory.

Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni used lavish amounts of gold leaf and different types of punch marks and tooling to describe haloes and background decorations. He took great pains to include details such as attributes for saints on the side wings and landscapes in most of the predella panels. The opulence and sheer elaborateness of this altarpiece inspired awe in Christian viewers of the late 1300s and remain impressive today.

Detail Views

Gianfigliazzi coat of arms
Gianfigliazzi coat of arms

Inscribed halos
Inscribed halos

Della Stufa coat of arms
Della Stufa coat of arms