This altar panel, one of Botticelli’s most carefully painted and best-preserved paintings, was commissioned by the Florentine merchant Giovanni d’Agnolo de’Bardi for his burial chapel in S. Spirito. The original frame by Giuliano da Sangallo was probably lost when the picture, which stayed in the Bardi family until 1825, was replaced by a more modern painting only a hundred years after its installation. A copy of a similar period frame in S. Spirito was created for this work in 1978. The subject matter, the enthroned Madonna with saints standing at her side, originates with Fra Angelico, and it was the theme of several other altar paintings (done at the same time or slightly earlier) in S. Spirito. Here the saints are the two St. Johns, with John the Baptist in the place of honour as patron saint. Botticelli moves away from the other works mentioned by reducing the architectural constructs and making the baldacchino behind Mary entirely of palm fronds. Foliage niches allude to the earlier, tripartite retable type. The composition is dominated by the over-lavish plant decoration, even though the countless texts (mainly from Jesus Sirach), make it clear that it has a very specific iconographical purpose. This tension between precise observation of nature and an elaborate concept is well served by elements that play down the distance from the viewer: the eyes of John the Baptist and the Christ Child, the placing of the saints on the step leading into the image or the small crucifix on the altar, which we imagine to be beneath the painting.