(It.: ‘holy conversation’).
A representation of the Virgin and Child flanked by saints in which all the sacred personages are disposed in a single pictorial space rather than in the separate compartments of a polyptych. Usually the figures are shown silently communing rather than conversing. The type originated in Italy in the first half of the 15th century: Filippo Lippi's Barbadori Altarpiece (begun 1437, Louvre, Paris) is perhaps the first dated example.