Presentazione di Gesù al Tempio

Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Vittore Carpaccio

Author
Vittore Carpaccio
Venezia 1460 c. - prima del giugno 1526
Title
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Catalogue
89
Date
1510
Support
Wood panel, 420 x 231 cm
Provenance
1815, purchased following the Napoleonic Suppression (from the church of San Giobbe in Venice)
Hall
Hall II

Originally on the third altar on the right in the church of San Giobbe and dedicated to the Purification of the Virgin, the altarpiece, signed and dated 1510, was probably commissioned by Pietro di Matteo Sanudo, whose coat of arms is still visible on the marble frame in the church. Carpaccio, under an apsed chapel decorated with polychrome marble and golden mosaics, depicts the episode of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple forty days after his birth. He is being presented to the High Priest Simeon, symmetrically juxtaposed to the Virgin. Following the format of Giovanni Bellini’s nearby San Giobbe Altarpiece, which was originally to the right of the altarpiece in question, the artist redeploys its pyramidal scheme, the suspended lamp, the group of angels playing instruments, the relationship with real architecture, and a smaller number of figures. The typology, however, doesn’t quite suit him, which is evident if we compare this piece with his better and much livelier narrative cycles for the Scuole. The originality of the episodes taken from Genesis and the Apocalypse and depicted on Simeon’s cape is contrasted with the repetitive nature of the Perugino-like female faces, which recall those of the kneeling martyrs in the Apotheosis of Saint Ursula, which probably shares the same preparatory drawing, now held at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (WA 1977.17, recto).