About the Artwork

This altarpiece was made for a religious order of nuns, and the painter specifically tailored its imagery to devout women. It was commissioned by the Order of Clares for the church of S. Giovanni Decollato in Urbania, a small town near Urbino. The order had been co-founded by Saint Clare (1194–1263), who is depicted at the lower left. She was a close follower of Saint Francis, who is shown above her. Three other female saints — Catherine, Agnes, and Lucy— are seen on the lower arcade, while Mary Magdalene is depicted opposite Saint Francis. Clustered around the Virgin’s throne are devout women: some wear habits, one wears a crown. These supplicants represent the order that commissioned the painting, and some of them may be portraits of the wealthy donors. The inscription directly describes the “true” confraternity and the intercessory power of the Virgin.

Source: Alan Chong, "Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 37.

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Gardner Museum Custom Prints is your exclusive source for custom reproductions authorized and available for purchase directly from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. All items that are offered are produced using gallery-quality materials and the color is managed in a manner that produces a reproduction as true to the original as modern technology will allow.


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