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Audio Guide - Adult

The Crucifixion with Scenes from The Passion and the Life of St. John The Baptist, ca. 1315-1320

Artist: Attributed to Lippo di Benivieni, Italian (Florentine School), active 1296 - 1320

Medium: Tempera on wood panel

Frame: 28 1/2 x 30 3/4 x 2 3/4 in. (72.4 x 78.1 x 7 cm)
right panel: 24 3/4 × 6 1/2 in. (62.9 × 16.5 cm)
center panel: 25 1/2 × 13 1/2 in. (64.8 × 34.3 cm)
left panel: 25 1/2 × 6 7/8 in. (64.8 × 17.5 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Object Number: 61.201

Not on view

Rev. Jarvis Holland Ash, Hungershall Park, Tunbridge Wells, England, 1880s; Arthur Brentano, New York, New York, July 22, 1947; Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York, New York, 1961

A documented member of Florence’s art guild, Lippo di Benivieni may have received his early training in Siena. Characterized by elongated figures in rich decorative color in a shallow picture plane, 14th-century Sienese painting was typically Medieval in appearance. Lippo’s work exhibits an influence of this tradition, as well as that of Florentine master Giotto di Bondone, whose innovative style helped shape the early art of Renaissance Italy. The more naturalistic approach to depicting figures’ emotional facial expressions and the manner in which the scenes appear to be illuminated from a single light source are elements inspired by Giotto. Thus, Lippo creates a unique blend of both the Florentine and the Sienese schools of Italian painting.

 

Made for the personal prayer and devotion of the owner, this small folding triptych was intended to be portable. The central panel depicts the Crucifixion of Christ, rendered in rich color on a gilded background, with the figures displaying the more expressive emotion associated with Florentine painting. Also present in the scene are the Virgin Mary draped in deep blue, John the Baptist with his hand to his cheek, and Mary Magdalene, who mournfully clings to the base of the cross. The human skull depicted behind her, an iconographic reference to Golgotha, locates the scene to the skull-shaped hill where Christ is said to have been crucified. Two Dominican monks, identified by their black-and-gray habits, and an unidentified kneeling woman, wearing a blue-and-gold dress, are also present and may have been included at the request of the patron. The left wing illustrates John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness, his own baptism, and the saint’s beheading. The life of Christ is echoed in the opposite wing, portraying Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, the flagellation, and the deposition from the cross.