Madonna and Child with Saints Simon, Judas Thaddeus, James, and Catherine of Alexandria

The De Simone Altarpiece is an elaborately carved stone altarpiece featuring several sculptures by Altobello Persio, located in the Cathedral of Matera. The central niche displays a large statue of the Madonna and Child. Above her are Saints Simon and Judas Thaddeus, and below her are Saints James and Catherine of Alexandria. On top of the framework is an Annunciation scene. Mary and Gabriel are placed on either side of God the Father, whose placement in his own archway suggests he is spatially removed from the immediate scene. At the bottom is a scene of the Last Supper in bas-relief. The entire altarpiece has undergone restoration within the last decade, which has revealed some of its original polychromy and made the inscriptions visible again. Scholars disagree as to whether this altarpiece has always been located here, or whether the De Simone altarpiece is now in the location of an altarpiece dedicated to St. Michael. Gelao, who argues the latter, suggests that the architectural framing, which seems to have an awkward relationship to the statues (some of which she says have been cut down, and others of which are raised on bases), belonged originally to the St. Michael altarpiece. The sculpture of Michael currently displayed above the De Simone altarpiece is thought to have been originally a part of that lost altarpiece. Documents record that Simone de Simone left his nephew Pietro Ulmo money in his will to commission this altarpiece, leaving specific instructions about the iconography. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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