Linaiuoli Tabernacle

Linaiuoli Tabernacle, 1433
292 x 176 cm  (9' 7" x 8' 9") 
Museo di San Marco, Florence

(Upcoming: See the special page dedicated to the Linaiuoli Tabernacle.)     

Linaiuoli Tabernacle
Museo di San Marco, Florence, Italy

Sts Mark and Peter; Adoration of the Magi Tempera on panel,       
56 x 39 cm 

       You can get an idea of just how large the tabernacle is by looking at this photo of it, in the San Marco Museum. 

Linaiuoli Tabernacle, closed

Tempera on panel, 292 x 176 cm (115 x 69.3 in.) (9' 7" x 5' 9") 
Florence, Museo di San Marco

[The central panel of The Virgin and Child differs from its predecessors in Angelico's oeuvre in the absence of a circle of space-defining angels. Greater realism is achieved by translating part of the traditional gold background into elaborate golden curtains which frame the Virgin, the outline thus created echoing a pointed arch. She has the same solidity and three-dimensional qualities as the saints in the work. The Child is clothed and stands upright holding His arms out in blessing.

The shutters, when open, reveal portraits of St. John the Baptist (left) and St. Mark (right). 


St. Peter preaching,
St. Mark listening in the audience
Adoration of the Magi
St. Mark martyred

Dated July 11, 1433; one of the earliest works by Angelico that can be dated with certainty, a tabernacle of huge dimensions . . .

Enclosed in a marble shrine designed by the Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti,

Commissioned by the linen merchants' guild (or Arte dei Linaiuoli; hence its name, the "Linaiuoli Altarpiece");

When opened, the tabernacle / altarpiece presents the Virgin and Son facing forward,
surrounding them are [. . . ] charming angels, developing the motif of the “Madonna of the Star" [?]

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Add? --

On July 11th 1433 the contract was signed between the Consuls of the Arte dei Linaioli (Guild of Linen Weavers) and our artist, for the tabernacle of which they had asked Lorenzo Ghiberti to give a design. The contract says:

"We engage Fra Guido, called Fra Giovanni of the Order of St. Dominic of Fiesole, to paint for the said Guild, a tabernacle of Our Lady; to be painted within and without with colours, gold, azure and silver, all of the very finest that can be found, with all his art and diligence, and for all this and his fatigue and work, he shall receive one hundred and ninety gold florins, or any less sum as shall appear to his conscience, and in consideration of the figures that are in the design."

The Virgin enthroned with the Holy Child is surrounded by twelve angels.  [the angels depicted on the slope of the frame in act of sounding trumpets, psalters, cymbals etc.,

On the folding shutters: four saints

In the interior, on the side panels are St. John and St. Mark; in the exterior St. Peter and St. Mark. The latter appears twice because he was the patron of the Linen Guild: "therefore," says Padre Marchese, "they wished that whether the tabernacle were open or closed, he should be always in their sight."

[From website -
Angelico finished the work with a predella, or narrow strip of paintings at the bottom: this group of three paintings includes "St. Peter Preaching"; "The Adoration of the Magi"; and "The Martyrdom of St. Mark."