L'Assomption de la Vierge dans les bras du Christ (panneau central) et Huit scènes de la mort de la Vierge (volets latéraux)

bois (peinture à tempera) H. 186 cm ; l. 91 cm (panneau central) ; H. 177 cm ; l. 44 cm (panneaux latéraux)
inv. D.9-1993Fondation Ephrussi de Rothschild (déposant)
This monumental polyptych, the work of an Umbrian master who was active in Cesi, was executed for the Augustinian convent of Santi Stefano e Tommaso in Spoleto. It forms one of the oldest and most detailed groups of paintings dedicated to the theme of the dormition of the Virgin. The lateral panels show eight scenes borrowed from The Golden Legend by Jacobus da Voragine (c. 1228–1298). Certain iconographic details reflect the wide-ranging influence of the paintings then being executed for the basilica built in memory of St. Francis at Assisi by Cimabue and Giotto. Mary’s room has the form of a hexagonal temple inspired by the fresco cycle depicting the life of St. Francis that Giotto painted between 1290 and 1292. The Assumption scene itself, which occupies the central panel, also borrows the prototype elaborated by Cimabue at Assisi, showing the Virgin Mary set in a mandorla, or almond-shaped aureola, being borne heavenward by angels. Mary’s tender gesture, leaning on Christ’s shoulder, sets her apart from Cimabue’s rendering, however, and confers special importance on this work, which is considered a major example of late 13th-century Umbrian painting.