Predella of La Madonna della Rondine (The Madonna of the Swallow)

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This predella (literally ‘platform’ or ’step‘, the bottom tier of an altarpiece) comes from a large altarpiece that Crivelli painted for the Ottoni family chapel in the Franciscan church at Matelica, in the Italian Marches.

The scenes reflect the patrons’ different interests – one was a churchman, the other a soldier – and tell us more about the holy figures above. Saints Catherine and Jerome on the left represent theological learning, while Saints George and Sebastian on the right were soldiers.

In the centre, the holy family shelter in a ruined building, symbolising the old law that Christ replaced. Through the arch to the right shepherds gaze up in amazement at the choir of angels announcing Christ’s birth, while their dog sleeps on oblivious to the miracle above.

The National Gallery, London



Predella of La Madonna della Rondine (The Madonna of the Swallow)


after 1490


Egg and oil on poplar


H 150.5 x W 107.3 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1862

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

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