Joachim and Anna Giving Food to the Poor and Offerings to the Temple, c. 1400/1405

Artists / Makers: Andrea di Bartolo 

Sienese, active from 1389 – died 1428

Image Description

Beneath two tall, tower-like structures, thirteen men, women, and children gather to give or receive food and foodstuff, all against a shiny gold background in this vertical painting.

All the people have light skin tinged with green. To the left of center and under the left structure, an older, bearded man and woman have flat, round halos punched with rings of tiny circles.

The man, Joachim, stands with his body angled to our left as he looks down to a group of five people gathered along the left edge of the painting. Joachim has shoulder-length, curly, gray hair and a long, wavy beard.

His brow is furrowed and his lips closed. He wears a gold-trimmed, royal-blue, ankle-length robe and gray, pointed shoes.

The handle of a basket holding bread rolls is hooked over one forearm, and he holds a roll out to the group with the other. In the group to our left, two people stand at the back while a man and a woman stoop over walking sticks, and the fifth person kneels as he holds a hand up toward Joachim.

The kneeling person braces his other hand on a low crutch by his knee. The people here wear tattered and patched robes in fawn brown, moss green, ruby red, or tan. Just beyond Joachim’s shoulder, the woman with the halo, Anna, stands with her body angled in the opposite direction, to our right.

She wears an ivory-white head covering that also wraps across her neck and shoulders, and an emerald-green, long-sleeved dress.

She holds a rectangular object with a spout, presumably a vessel, in front of her body as she looks toward the group gathered to our right. Just across from her, under the right-hand structure, a bearded man with long, gray hair stands wearing a crimson-red, gold-edged cloak over a long white robe.

He also wears a conical, pointed white headpiece with a gold crown around its base.

The man holds out one hand to the three boys gathered between him and Anna. The boys wear togas in rose pink or marigold orange, and they hold two tall, white sacks. Also under the right-hand tower and along the right edge of the composition, two more bearded men stand close together, gesturing toward each other as if in conversation.

Each structure has a back wall leading up to a box-like second story, which is supported at the front with thin columns. The left structure has a dark, arched opening behind Joachim and Anna, a pumpkin-orange ceiling underneath the second story, and arched openings on that second level.

The structure to our right has arched openings supporting a vaulted ceiling, painted with gold stars on a navy-blue background. A narrow, crenelated, slate-gray wall connects the two structures. Areas of red, especially around cracks, show through the shimmering gold background above and around the structures.

Credit: The National Gallery of Art

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