Tryptych Galitzin – National Gallery of Art – Washington

The Crucifixion with Saints, realized in 1485 for a chapel in the Dominican church of San Gimignano commissioned by Bartolomeo di Bartolo, was purchased in 1796/97 by the Russian ambassador in Rome Alexander Mikhailovich Galitzin, and remained the property of the Galitzin family until 1886: thanks to this lasting connection, the work is still known by the name of Triptych Galitzin, even if, in 1937, it became part of the National Gallery of Arts in Washington collection, where it is still preserved.
In the central panel, Christ is on the cross, while on the sides Mary and Saint John the Evangelist are grieving: the Madonna, on the left, with her face bent down, joins her hand to the chest as a sign of prayer, and the dark robe, decorated with elegant embroideries that run on the edges, covers her whole body, including the head as a sign of mourning; on the right side, Saint John raises his gaze on Jesus, but the beautiful face with delicate features does not betray suffering.
Even the body of Christ, naked and covered only by a white cloth that wraps his hips, is depicted following the ideal canons of classical statuary, and does not express the signs of suffering and death: despite the fact that it is a crucifixion, the atmosphere is serene and invites to meditation on the theme, rather than to participate in the suffering of the event.
In the two side panels, two saints witness the scene, both facing the central figure of Christ: Saint Jerome with the lion behind him (on the left) and Saint Mary Magdalene, whose jar of ointments rests on the rock near her feet (on the right).
The naturalistic setting is meticulously detailed in all the panels: grassy fronds stand in foreground, while in the background a rocky landscape opens in the central part and allows a glimpse of small villages; the attention to these small details recalls paintings of Flemish tradition that were popular in Italy at the time.
The triptych is preserved at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
Perugino, Triptych Galitzin, 1480/1485 ca., oil on panel transferred to canvas, central compartment 56,5 x 101,3 cm, side compartments 30,5 x 95,2 cm, Washington, National Gallery of Art