Master of the Magdalene, Triptych with the Madonna

Florence, circa 1265-95
Tempera on wood, gold ground. Central panel: 16 x 11⅛ in. (40.6 x 28.3 cm.).
Metropolitan Museum, accession 41-100-8, gift of George Blumenthal

In the central panel, Saints Paul and Peter stand left and right of the Madonna on her throne. In the Annunciation pictured above, the angel blesses Mary with his right hand, a reference to his words in Luke 1:28, "blessed art thou among women." By convention the palms-out gesture that Mary makes signifies acceptance.

The top of the left panel presents (bottom to top) the kiss of Judas, the Last Supper (or possibly the disciples "at table" in Mark 16:14 just before the resurrected Christ appears to them), and Christ in a mandorla. Since all the other small panels are narrative in nature, the latter panel may be a reduction of the Ascension iconography that puts the ascending Christ in a mandorla with a book or scroll.

Below, the Passion sequence begins with the Last Supper and the Arrest of Jesus. The left panel continues the sequence, reading from bottom to top with the Flagellation, Jesus carrying the cross, and the Crucifixion.

In the Last Supper panel, Judas is identified by a dark halo and is about to dip his hand into the bowl mentioned in the gospels. In the Arrest panel, he is kissing Jesus.

The Crucifixion panel closely follows Byzantine iconography. Jesus wears a small skirt. His pelvis twists to the right. The inscription above his head is the Greek IC XC, for Iesuous Christos. Mary and John stand pensively below the crossbar, and angels hover above it. In preparation for Jesus' welcome into Heaven, the angel on the left holds a cloth and the angel on the right a diadem. The cross is planted in a small mound with a skull referencing Mount Calvary. Some Eastern icons also have the city wall in the background, with windows and sometimes a few buildings as here.

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Read more about images of the Madonna and Child and the Annunciation.
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Read more about images of the Last Supper, the Arrest, Jesus' trials, the Way of the Cross, and the Crucifixion.

Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.