Purification of the Virgin
Predella panel from the altarpiece from the Compagnia di Santa Maria della Purificazione e di San Zanobi, Florence, contracted October 23, 1461; the main panels from the altarpiece are in the National Gallery, London (283); companion predella panels are in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II (132); the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan (475); the Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz (60c); and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1086)
Benozzo Gozzoli (Benozzo di Lese di Sandro), Italian (active Florence and Pistoia), born c. 1421/22, died 1497
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This painting features both the presentation of the baby Jesus to the elders in the temple and the purification of the Virgin in which, following Jewish tradition, an offering––in this case the turtle doves held by Joseph––was made to the temple after a woman gave birth. These two events were celebrated as a mid-winter festival marked by the distribution of candles and candlelit processions. This picture comes from an altarpiece of a boys’ club that was dedicated to the religious feast of the Purification. The club, which was sponsored by the Medici family who dominated Florence’s politics, met in the convent of San Marco, also built by the Medici. The architecture in the painting sets the scene in the convent’s church, although the events took place in Jerusalem.