The unusual combination of images in this triptych and its particular form are unique in Italian art. The central panel depicts at the bottom, the funeral of the fourth-century theologian and writer St. Ephraim, whose soul is shown at the top, transported to heaven by angels. The rocky terrain, with its wild animals and varied foliage, represents the desert around Thebes in Egypt, populated by hermits, many of whom were saints. The panel may be based on a Byzantine prototype. Christ and the angels above and the scenes from Christ's Passion in the wings are characteristic of thirteenth-century Italian painting.