Fano Altarpiece – Church of Santa Maria Nuova – Fano

The altarpiece, conceived to be placed on the main altar of the new church of the Minor Observants friars, who had moved to Santa Maria Nuova after having left the previous building in San Lazzaro, was commissioned to Perugino by Durante di Giovanni Vannuzzi da Fano’s executor. The panel with the Madonna enthroned with Saints was the central compartment of a large altarpiece, that also included a cimasa, a predella (still visible in the church) and a “box” that connected the whole structure to the side walls. Even though Vannucci was helped by his assistants (including Raphael), he didn’t finish the whole Altarpiece until 1497.

Under a vault supported by an elegant and solid colonnade, the Virgin is sitting on a throne, with the Child on her knees, while the saints surround her sides: Saint John the Baptist on the left, Saint Louis in the background, Saint Francis in the act of reading, Saint Peter next to the Virgin, Saint Paul in the background and Saint Mary Magdalene on the extreme right, holding her pyx.

Placed at the top of the altarpiece, in addition to the predella, Perugino also painted the cimasa showing a Piety, where the lifeless body of Jesus is supported on the tomb by Joseph D’Arimatea and Nicodemus while the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist are grieving.

The altarpiece, together with the predella with five scenes of the life of the Virgin, still in place, is preserved at the church of Santa Maria Nuova, in Fano.

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