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Neri di Bicci

Virgin and Child with Saint Michael and Saint Blaise


Neri di Bicci
Florence 1419 – Florence about 1491


Virgin and Child with Saint Michael and Saint Blaise


About 1475


Oil and tempera on wood


255.2 x 254 x 37 cm


Purchase, Special Fund, inv. 1962.1374


Western Art

Neri di Bicci ran a large and successful workshop in Florence. His stiffly populated and strongly coloured paintings, marked with his conservative style, pleased the tastes of local donors for some time. Neri borrowed some of these artistic developments and in the 1460s began introducing the sort of illusionistically cast shadows found in this altarpiece. The inscription at the base of the main panel, following medieval convention, identifies the figures shown with their attributes. The Virgin and Child are accompanied by Saint Blaise (holding an iron comb - to untangle the fibers - the symbol of his martyrdom) and the Archangel Michael (with a balance for souls). Kneeling at either side of the throne are the donors and, on the altarpiece’s predella (lower panel), is Christ rising from the sepulchre. At the left are Tobias with an angel, Saint Peter and the Virgin, and at the right are Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Lawrence and Saint Francis of Assisi, perhaps the patron saints of the donors, whose crests are at either side of the predella.

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