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Portable Triptych with Madonna of Humility

This small altarpiece is exceptional for having survived intact for more than six hundred years. It was produced in Siena, one of Tuscany’s most important political and artistic centers during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. The triptych bears several hallmarks of the Gothic style, including the elegant linearity of the figures and the shape itself, which recalls the pointed arches of Gothic architecture. The central panel depicts the Virgin and Child and the wings portray four saints: John the Baptist, James the Great, Catherine of Alexandria, and an unidentified female saint. Given its small scale, the triptych may have been used in a home or hospital, where it would have been carried from bed to bed.

Niccolò di Buonaccorso
Italian (Sienese), ca. 1348–1388
Portable Triptych with Madonna of Humility
ca. 1370
Tempera and gilding on panel
23 3/4 x 21 in. (60.3 x 53.3 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 76.39