The Triptych of Vittore Crivelli

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The triptych of  Vittore Crivelli

The original polyptych, perhaps also from the church of St. Michael the Archangel, or even from the same church of St. Martin, where it was recorded to have been until the eighteenth century on the main altar, appears to the eyes of its visitors maimed at the top. On a second step, fragments of the signature of the Venetian painter, Vittore Crivelli, are still preserved, along with the year, dating back to 1490, yet a doubt still remains that the panel  belongs to this work. After a transfer to the Picture Gallery of Macerata (which took place in 1872, following the application of the so-called “ecclesiastic subversive laws” with which the transfer of all assets owned by  public libraries or museums of the province was decreed), the work was returned to the community of San Martino, where it can still be enjoyed today.The crowned Madonna enthroned, who gently holds Jesus comfortably sitting on a pillow on her knees, dominates the centre of the triptych. The child is shown in the act of imparting a blessing while he looks up towards  the panel depicting the Crucifixion, heralded by the robin he holds in his left hand. In fact, popular tradition narrates  that the bird stained its chest when it removed a thorn from the crown Jesus wore.  At both sides of the throne,  two archangels peek out from behind a hedge: St. Michael is the angel of death and the judge of souls, St. Gabriel is the messenger of life who announces to Mary the birth of the Saviour. Suspended from a rod, resting on the golden altar frontal, a pomegranate, symbol of the Church and of rebirth, decorates the background, along with an apple,  symbol of the original sin. The scene of the Crucifixion is placed within a fantastic landscape delimited on top by a golden band used to highlight the distance and the separation between the human world and that of God. A sorrowful Magdalene embraces the cross while, at the feet of Christ, Mary and JohnMonte San Martino are crying, expressing all their pain. In the golden sky rise three seraphs intent to collect the blood that gushes from the wounds of the Saviour.The golden background of the panels and the luxuriant green lawn, precisely from that detailed  empirical naturalism of the international Gothic tradition, suggest the unity of the scene depicted in the lower order that represents, on pedestals, Saint Martin to the left and Saint Anthony Abbot to the right, both in the act of expressing their devotion to the Virgin Mary and  the Child. Notwithstanding the deterioration caused by erosion over time, the pillars and balusters of the frame are decorated and painted in tempera, an apparent sign of an attempt by Vittore to show himself abreast  of culture and orientated towards Renaissance tastes.