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Matteo di Giovanni, The Assumption of the Virgin

Key facts
Full title The Assumption of the Virgin
Artist Matteo di Giovanni
Artist dates active 1452; died 1495
Date made probably 1474
Medium and support Tempera and gold on wood
Dimensions 331.5 × 174 cm, 150 kg
Inscription summary Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1884
Inventory number NG1155
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Assumption of the Virgin
Matteo di Giovanni

This magnificent and imposing vision of the Virgin Mary’s body and soul being taken to heaven was the central panel of a large polyptych (a multi-panelled altarpiece). It was made for the monastery of Sant'Agostino in Asciano, in the countryside near the Tuscan town of Siena.

The Virgin is shown rising in majesty, high above the hills, trees and river of the landscape, her empty tomb below her. Saint Thomas strains to catch a pink ribbon – this is the Virgin’s belt, or girdle, which, according to legend, the Virgin dropped for him. Thomas had also touched Christ’s wounded side after the Resurrection. In both instances, Thomas served to prove the truth of the bodily resurrection.

The city of Siena was dedicated to the protection of the Virgin Mary, and many glorious images of her could be found there. By commissioning an image like this, Asciano and other surrounding towns were showing their own devotion while emulating Siena.

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