Shortly after completing this imposing work, the young Piero di Giovanni joined a monastic order and became Lorenzo ‘Monaco’ (‘monk’ in Italian). He remained Florence’s leading painter for many decades. As its shape suggests, the painting was made for the top of a large altarpiece, which once stood in the Church of San Gaggio in Florence. The crowning of the Virgin Mary as she reaches Heaven was considered an appropriate theme for this elevated position. Details such as the marble tiles and gold-embroidered cloth behind the throne would have been difficult to see high up in the church. However, the altarpiece was intended for God’s viewing as much as for the churchgoers’. Mary’s robe was originally painted bold red, which has faded to white over time.


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