church of Saint Dominic
painting by Carlo Crivelli
There are no stamps of the church of Saint Dominic in Ascoli Piceno, Italy. In this church there was a famous painting of Carlo Crivelli (1430-1500) one of his masterpieces, composed in 1476, at the end of his life.
The painting was in the church till 1800, because it is then in Roma. In 1852 it was purchased by Prince Anatoli Nikolajvevitsj Denodov, or Demidoff, Moscow 1738-Parish 16 April 1870, who erected it in the private chapel of his villa near Firenze in its present frame. This altarpiece and 4 separate panels were bought by the National Gallery, London, in 1868 and is known as 'The Demidoff Altarpiece'.
The polyptych was composed of the central panel, the Virgin and the Child, and eight smaller panels with saints, also in the Gallery. Originally there was a predella (a lower section of the altarpiece), now lost, and a lunette-shaped Lamentation above, preserved now in New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Description of the altarpiece
The Demidoff altarpiece encloses nine panels arranged in two tiers, measuring over their present frame 16 ft. by 10 ft.
On the high tier (four half-length figures on separate panels), beginning from the left: Saint Francis of Assisi (61x40 cm) with the stigmata; Saint Andrew (61x40 cm) with cross and book; Saint Stephen (61x40 cm); the Dominican doctor of the church Saint Thomas Aquinas (61x40 cm) with a book and a model of a church.
Middle tier: in the centre the Madonna (148x63 cm) with a richly jewelled crown seated on a marble throne, with the Child asleep in her lap. Inscribed below the throne: opus karoli crivelli veneti, 1476.
On the left outer panel Saint John the Baptist (138x40 cm);
Saint Peter, apostle (138x40 cm), in full pontifical attire, with a book and
two keys in his left hand.
On the right inner panel Saint Catherine of Alexandria (138x40 cm) with wheel and palm branch.
On the outer panel Saint Dominic (138x40 cm), the founder of the Order of the Preachers, with a book and a lily in his left hand.
NB When acquired by the Gallery, the altarpiece had a tier of smaller panels (91x26 cm) of saints, now acknowledged as part of a separate polyptych in the same church with small full-length figure. They are: Saint JeRoma in Cardinal's attire with a model of a church; the angel Saint Michael and the Dragon; Saint Lucy with a palm branch and her eyes in a dish; the Dominican preacher Saint Peter Martyr of Verona, his head cleft with a chopper and a sword through his breast.
All the panels are painted in tempera on poplar.
Sources: London National Gallery and other.
The Virgin and the Child, central part
of the altarpiece by Carlo Crivelli,
painted for the church of Saint Dominic
in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, in 1476.
Today in the National gallery in London.
Virgin Islands 1973, Mi260, Sc 264.
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