Artibus et Historiae no. 29 (XV)

1994, ISSN 0391-9064

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DALIA HAITOVSKY - A New Look at a Lost Painting: The Hebrew Inscription in Lorenzo Costa's Presentation in the Temple

Both versions of The Presentation in the Temple by the Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Costa are discussed here, but special attention is devoted to the one which was destroyed in the Second World War. That canvas possessed a unique feature in that it showed the prophetess Anna holding a tablet with Hebrew lettering - an apparent innovation in depictions of the Presentation. The inscription is based on Isaiah 53:8 and 9:6 and tells of the coming of the Messiah and his death in behalf of mankind. The artist thus has Anna confirm Simeon's prophecy that the Infant Jesus is in fact the Messiah.

The author of the article suggests that Anton Galeazzo Bentivoglio, who ordered the altarpiece for the church of Santa Maria della Vita in Bologna, probabły initiated the use of Hebrew in the work. It is also proposed that he himself appears in the picture, as both participant and donor.

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