Gentile di Niccolò di Giovanni di Massio

In the heart of a city, a polygonal temple opens onto a flagged square flanked by palaces and, on the right, a portico. The Virgin and Joseph have come here to present their first-born Son to the Lord and offer two young doves in sacrifice. On the right stand Simeon and the prophetess Anna, who holds a phylactery. Receiving the Child into his arms, Simon recognizes the Messiah that the Lord promised he would behold before his death. Anna points out the Savior to "all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38). On either side of the building a crowd has gathered. To the left, two women elegantly dressed in the fashion of the 15th century observe the scene from outside, while to the right a pair of old beggars ask for alms. 
During this period, the architect Brunelleschi (1377-1446) had already produced his first perspective composition - now lost - of the Baptistery square. Although Gentile does not respect the laws of perspective here, the urban setting of the Presentation in the Temple, with its central polygonal structure, was often considered one of the oldest iterations in painting of Brunelleschi's experiment. The portico on the painting's right was often taken to represent the Brunelleschi's Portico degli Innocenti, started in 1419 and still under construction when this painting was produced. While Gentile was attentive to the investigations of the great Florentine architect, he was more inclined to follow the example of the sculptor and goldsmith Ghiberti (1378-1455), who was then finishing the north door of the Baptistery, with whom he shared a poetics of the elegant line. 


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