Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The kneeling group of Franciscan nuns at the foot of the Virgin’s throne makes it clear that this portable reliquary was made for a community of Poor Clare nuns. Their orderly placement beneath the solidly built throne contrasts with the image of the Crucifixion beside it, which amplifies the physical and emotional aspects of the Passion. In that panel, every element is intensified, from the expressively charged angels above the cross to the streams of blood that pool on the rocks of Golgotha.

This painting seems to respond to the Meditationes Vitae Christi (Meditations on the Life of Christ), a popular text written in the early fourteenth century as a devotional tool for Franciscan nuns. Its carefully narrated “meditations” were meant to touch nuns’ emotions and move them to experience the stories of salvation.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Master of Offida, Italian (active c. 1350)
The Virgin and Child Enthroned; Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist
Work Type
c. 1350
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Umbria
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2440, Medieval Art, Medieval Art
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Physical Descriptions
Tempera and gold on panel with engaged frame
overall: 41 x 53.6 x 3.3 cm (16 1/8 x 21 1/8 x 1 5/16 in.)
left: 40.8 x 26.4 x 3.3 cm (16 1/16 x 10 3/8 x 1 5/16 in.)
right: 40.8 x 26.4 x 3.3 cm (16 1/16 x 10 3/8 x 1 5/16 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Harold W. Parsons
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 242 [as 14th century Umbria]

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 118, 286, repr. b/w cat. no. 500

Exhibition History

32Q: 2440 Medieval, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

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