The Presentation of the Virgin
Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c.1399 - Siena 1482)
This panel once formed part of a predella, a sequence of panels which formed the base of an altarpiece. The episode probably formed part of a series of pictures recounting the life of the Virgin. Narratives from the Virgin’s childhood were recounted in the Apocrypha and in the thirteenth century text, the Golden Legend. The Virgin can be seen ascending the Temple steps, towards the high priest Zacharias, and an attendant priest. Her mother, Anne, and father, Joachim, both with haloes, await her at the bottom of the steps. The episode illustrates that her parents had carried out the requirements of Jewish law, which stipulated that the firstborn should be presented at the Temple with offerings.
Oil painting on poplar panel, The Presentation of the Virgin by Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c.1399 - Siena 1482), circa 1445-50. The interior of a temple, enclosed on either side by panelled walls, with a paved floor in the foreground and six slender columns; a broad flight of steps in the centre leads to the golden tabernacle, before which stands Zacharias and a second priest, right, and the young Virgin, wearing a pale blue dress flecked with gold, left. The Virgin turns to Saint Anne, who, attended by two fashionably dressed women and wearing a blue robe, stands on the lowest step at the left. Opposite and facing her at the foot of the steps is Joachim; behind him can be seen a male figure and above, on a level with the tabernacle a group of children forming a choir. Panel includes a gold strip of 4mm (1/8in) at each side; top and bottom probably cut.
Anon. sale, Christie's, 24 February 1922, lot 38, as Florentine School: bought by Smith, or possibly Robert Langton Douglas (1864-1951), by whom sold by 1923 to Mrs Otto Kahn (1875 - 1949); in 1937 with the Bachstitz Gallery, The Hague, and acquired by Lord Bearsted the same year; given with Upton House to the National Trust by Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted (1882 – 1948), in 1948, shortly before his death
Upton House, The Bearsted Collection (National Trust)
Makers and roles
Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c.1399 - Siena 1482), artist previously catalogued as by Italian (Florentine) School, artist
Pope-Hennessy 1937 J. Pope-Hennessy, 'A Predella Panel by Giovanni di Paolo', The Burlington Magazine, LXXI, 1937, pp.108-9, repd. Sutton 1979: Denys Sutton, 'Robert Langton Douglas: Connoisseur of Art and Life', Apollo, June 1979