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This was the central panel of a large altarpiece made for the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Pisa. The Virgin’s sturdy form, which looks similar to contemporary Florentine sculpture, casts a shadow against the carved throne. Christ’s body seems fleshy and three-dimensional; Masaccio has done this by showing how certain areas catch the light, painting them with a lighter tone. His ability to represent holy figures as though they were human was innovative and influential.
Christ is shown eating grapes. It’s a reminder of the wine of the Eucharist, which Christians drink in remembrance of the blood Christ shed at his crucifixion, a scene of which would have sat above this image.
Egg tempera on wood
H 134.8 x W 73.5 cm
Bought with a contribution from The Art Fund, 1916