The Polyptych by Vittore Crivelli

HOME / The Polyptych by Vittore Crivelli

The Polyptych by Vittore Crivelli

The polyptych, dated 1489 and signed at the base of the throne of the Madonna, comes from the disused church of Santa Maria del Pozzo. The sacred narrative, inscribed between lowered arches, abandons the traditional golden  background in favour of a leaden sky, which becomes progressively lighter towards  the horizon. At the centre, the Madonna is seated on a throne supporting the Child as he stands upright on her knees turning to St. Peter, giving him the keys to Paradise. From the throne hangs, in a seemingly random and scattered manner, on one side, a bouquet of red carnations, symbol of the Incarnation and Passion of Christ and the Church, and on the other side, several white  roses, emblem of Mary and motherhood. On the parapet behind the throne there are arranged: a vase with cut red carnations and an open book, sign of the Word of God. Finally, a wilted carnation has fallen to the floor,  alluding to the passion described in the panel above with the Ecce Homo surrounded by the Instruments of Passion: spear, sponge on a reed, and whip. To the right and left are the half busts of St. Michael the Archangel and St. Martin on horseback, which close the upper structure. Crowning the Madonna are St. Peter, identified by the book and keys, and St. Paul, distinguished by the sword.In the gable, between two cornucopias overflowing with apples, lays the shroud with the image of  Christ crowned with thorns. According to the accurate description offered in 1834 by historian from Macerata, Amico Ricci, the altarpiece had to be comprised of a predella, with many stories and minute figures, which no longer exists today. The polyptych is a keystone towards the adoption of Renaissance precepts, both  in the rendering of the figures, as well as in the architectural and decorative design of the frame. The twisted columns are here replaced by linear pillars, round arches replaced the polylobed ogee arches, the steeples and pinnacles are replaced by an architrave and a pediment.