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The Visitation with Saints Nicholas and Anthony Abbot: A Closer Look

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Piero di Cosimo, The Visitation with Saints Nicholas and Anthony Abbot, c. 1489/1490, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Samuel H. Kress Collection

Painted for the church of Santo Spirito in Florence, Piero’s Visitation altarpiece depicts the meeting of the pregnant Virgin Mary and the elderly Elizabeth, soon to give birth to John the Baptist. The expectant mothers join hands in a gesture of holy compassion and mutual recognition. They are accompanied by Nicholas, patron of children and merchants, and Anthony Abbot, founder of monasticism. Engrossed in their reading and writing, the elderly saints pay no heed to the scene’s bustling narrative activity. Piero has enriched the large altarpiece with fascinating details and miniature episodes from the early life of Christ.

Click below to enlarge details.