The Chiarito Tabernacle

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The Chiarito Tabernacle

The Chiarito Tabernacle


In the early fourteenth century, Florence emerged as a booming paradigm of art work, especially in paintings and manuscript illumination. The art work I have selected “The Chiarito Tabernacle” is a master piece of Pacino di Bonaguida (active about 1303- about 1347), presented in the exhibition “Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance: Painting and Illumination, 1300-1350” at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Chiarito Tabernacle by Pacino di Bonaguida is an art work of about 1340s, Gilded gesso and tempera on panel and size 38 1/4 x 11 5/16 in.

Pacino di Bonaguida, one of the renowned Florentine artists, is known for his altarpieces, miniatures and illuminated manuscripts. His only signed painting is an altarpiece in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. He is regarded the pioneer of miniaturism, which is extremely detailed work incorporated with multiple small scenes.

Thesis Statement

The Chiarito Tabernacle is a remarkable depiction of the phenomena of transubstantiation.

Background of the painting

The scenes depicted in 'The Chiarito Tabernacle' are about a rich man of Florence 'Chiarito del Voglia'. Chiarito in 1328 had an illusion of Saint Zenobius when he was at saint's tomb. Chiarito observed that Saint Zenobius sanctified him holy cross and cured his throat illness. After this vision, Chiarito took a vow of chastity and dedicated his life to the care of holy women in Florence. Chiarito was a pious man and used to have visions of the divine. The scene captured in 'The Chiarito Tabernacle' is his most renowned vision.

The technique used

Barbara Baert gives a detailed analysis of the technique used in The Chiarito Tabernacle. She states that Pacino has used a variety of techniques in formation of the Chiarito Tabernacle. The painting is enriched with the gesso work done as gold foil and the pressbrokat figures. Gold work is one with extreme care. Combing gold and tempera has served dual function of the triptych; as a retabulum and a tabernaculum. Painted parts on the extended wings represent Biblical history, the predella refers to contemporary history and the eminent golden panel is metahistorical.

Size of the painting

The dimensions of 'The Chiarito Tabernacle' are 102 cm by 113 cm. This size deviates from the standard size. The altarpiece is not suitable for public use since its too small for that. And for private use it's too large.

Angle to View the painting

A unique aspect of The Chiarito Tabernacle is its different perception with different viewing conditions. The techniques Pacino has used in making of the tabernacle allows viewers to imagine the materialization of body of Christ. Pacino has created this work to be seen obliquely, just the same position acquired by Chiarito in three scenes given below. When the Chiarito Tabernacle is viewed from this position, the concept and narration are better appreciable then when seen in a standing position.

Analysis of the Chiarito Tabernacle

The Chiarito Tabernacle is a triptych. The central panel shows Christ, surrounded by the twelve Apostles. The apostles are kneeling before the ...