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Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Predella panel of an altarpiece; companion to John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art (Cat. 19), and a panel in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1731/5)

Giovanni Toscani (Giovanni di Francesco Toscani), Italian (active Florence), c. 1370-80 - 1430

Made in Florence, Italy, Europe

c. 1427-1430

Tempera and gold on panel with horizontal grain

7 1/4 x 19 3/8 inches (18.4 x 49.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 212, European Art 1100-1500, second floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 18

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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This panel was part of a predella, an old Italian word meaning step, which supported the main part of an altarpiece.

Additional information:
  • PublicationItalian Paintings 1250-1450

    The scene takes place in the temple in Jerusalem, which is depicted as an arched open loggia set in an enclosed square. Inside the temple, the Virgin hands the baby Jesus to the elderly Simeon, who, like the Holy Family, has a halo. An older woman next to them may be the prophetess Anna. Joseph is by himself to the left, and a young man bearing two turtledoves is on the right. Other figures look on the scene both from inside the temple and from the street.

    Luke 2:22-39 describes how, as prescribed by Mosaic law, Mary and Joseph brought the infant Christ to the temple. They also carried with them two turtledoves, or pigeons, as a sacrifice. The late thirteenth-century Meditations on the Life of Christ, probably by the Franciscan friar Giovanni da San Gimignano, explains that the couple brought this offering because they were too poor to afford a sacrificial lamb.1 Simeon foresaw the child's role as the salvation of man, and Anna spoke of him as the redemption of Israel.

    For further comments, see Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection cat. 19. Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Italian paintings, 1250-1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004, pp. 426-429.


    1. Meditations on the Life of Christ: An Illustrated Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. Ital. 115. Translated by Isa Ragusa. Completed from the Latin and edited by Isa Ragusa and Rosalie B. Green. Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology, 35. Princeton, 1961, pp. 56-57.


    Bernhard Berenson. "La Madonna pisana di Masaccio." Rassegna d'arte (Milan), vol. 8, no. 5 (May 1908), p. 84 (cat. 18; possibly Masaccio);
    Bernhard Berenson. Catalogue of a Collection of Paintings and Some Art Objects. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings. Philadelphia, 1913, pp. 14-15, repro. pp. 240-41 (school of Masaccio, possibly Andrea di Giusto);
    Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. vol 10. The Hague, 1928, p. 304;
    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Oxford, 1932, p. 12;
    Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento: catalogo dei principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi. Translated from the English by Emilio Cecchi. Collezione "Valori plastici." Milan, 1936, p. 11;
    Roberto Longhi. "Fatti di Masolino e di Masaccio." Critica d'arte (Florence), vol. 5, no. 34, fascs. 25-26, pt. 2 (July-December 1940), p. 183 n. 23 (Roberto Longhi. Edizione delle opere complete di Roberto Longhi. 14 vols. Florence, 1956-91, vol. 8, pt. 1, p. 55 n. 23);
    John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Paintings. Foreword by Henri Marceau. Philadelphia, 1941, p. 1 (Andrea di Giusto);
    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Florentine School. 2 vols. London, 1963, p. 6;
    Luciano Bellosi. "Il Maestro della Crocifissione Griggs: Giovanni Toscani." Paragone-arte (Florence), n.s., vol. 17, no. 193/13 (March 1966), pp. 49-50, figs. 29a, b;
    [Barbara Sweeny]. John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Italian Paintings. Foreword by Henri Marceau. Philadelphia, 1966, p. 2, repro. p. 114 (Andrea di Giusto);
    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, 1972, p. 204;
    Dizionario enciclopedico Bolaffi dei pittori e degli incisori italiani dall'XI al XX secolo. vol. 11. Turin, 1976, pp. 135-36;
    Philadelphia Museum of Art. Paintings from Europe and the Americas in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: A Concise Catalogue. Philadelphia, 1994, repros. p. 235.

    Companion panel for Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection cats. 18 and 19
    Predella panel of an altarpiece: Adoration of the Magi. Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, Felton Bequest, 1966.

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