Virgin and the Dead Christ with the Ascension and Saints

Bartolomeo Vivarini (Italian (Venetian), active about 1440, died after 1500)


236.09 x 198 cm (92 15/16 x 77 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Carved and painted wood; tempera and oil on panel

Not On View





From upper left, the depicted saints are: Jerome, Gregory, Mary Magdalen, Christopher, Benedict, Andrew, George, and Scholastica.

This monumental altarpiece is distinctive both because it weaves together painting and sculpture and because it is nearly intact, including the ornate gothic frame. In the lower tier, the presence of saints Benedict (far left) and Scholastica (far right), founders of the Benedictine Order, indicate that the altarpiece was created for a Benedictine monastery. In the center is a carved Pietà, an image of the Virgin holding her dead son in her lap. Vivarini painted the altarpiece in Venice and shipped it to Dalmatia, on the coast of Croatia. The Gothic taste-seen in the wiry saints, the lavish carving and gilding, and the pointed arches of the frame-lingered longer in Venice and its colonies than in more progressive cities such as Florence.


Signed and dated below central Pietá on the base of the sculpture: FACTVM VENETIIS PER BARTOLOMEVM VIVARINVM DE VMRIANO PINXIT 1485.


1485, church of St. Andrew, Rab, Croatia (original commission). 1876, Quincy Adams Shaw (b. 1825 - d. 1908), Boston; 1901, gift of Quincy Adams Shaw to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 9, 1901)

Credit Line

Gift of Quincy Adams Shaw