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Portinari Altarpiece in Florence

HUGO VAN DER GOES
Mary and Joseph on the Way to Bethlehem
Portinari Altarpiece, 1479
oil on wood

One of the things we love about having spent so much time in Italy is the exploration of religious art there. The Portinari Altarpiece at the Uffizi in Florence is a great example. Considererd one of the most significant works of Christian art from the 15th century, Hugo Van Der Goes depicts a very loving and kind Joseph as he helps a presumably pregnant Mary navigate a rocky landscape. Jesus’s earthly father is often portrayed as ineffectual, but not according to Van Der Goes. Here, Joseph is shown as a new father protecting his family from potential danger.

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