(b. 1450, Citta della Pieve, d. 1523, Perugia)

The Galitzin Triptych

Tempera on canvas, transferred from wood
National Gallery of Art, Washington

The triptych was executed for the church San Domenico at San Gimignano. During the Napoleonic invasion it was substituted by a copy while the original, passing through several private hands, went to the possession of Prince Galitzin in Moscow. In 1886 it was donated to the Hermitage from where it was acquisited by the Mellon collection.

The three parts of the triptych:

A. Saint Jerome, 95 x 30 cm

B. Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist, 101 x 56 cm

C. Saint Mary Magdalen, 95 x 30 cm

Perugino emphasizes in this painting the theological and intellectual aspects of the Crucifixion rather than the physical and emotional. The traditional figures of Mary and Saint John the Evangelist at the foot of the Cross are joined by Saint Jerome, with his attribute the lion, and Saint Mary Magdalen, with her attribute, the jar of ointment. The human figures, plants, trees, and other elements of nature are rendered with complete realism, while the placing of the figures and the design of the landscape are clearly defined and ordered according to rules of perspective and the use of geometric shapes for composition. Note that the three figures, and that the lines of the rocky landscape and the heads of the saints form the sides of a "V" which converges at the base of the Cross and emphasizes the figure of Christ silhouetted against the sky.