The walls are divided into three orders by horizontal cornices; according to the decorative program, the lower of the three orders was to be painted with fictive "tapestries," the central one with two facing cycles - one relating the life of Moses (left wall) and the other the Life of Christ (right wall), starting from the end wall, where the altar fresco, painted by Perugino, depicted the Virgin of the Assumption, to whom the chapel was dedicated. The upper order is endowed with pilasters that support the pendentives of the vault. Above the upper cornice are situated the lunettes. Between each window below the lunettes, in fictive niches, run images of the first popes - from Peter to Marcellus - who practiced their ministry in times of great persecution and were martyred.

The wall paintings were executed by Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and their respective workshops, which included Pinturicchio, Piero di Cosimo and Bartolomeo della Gatta. The ceiling was frescoed by Piero Matteo d'Amelia with a star-spangled sky.

A magnificent marble screen divided the presbytery from the nave, and there was an attractive choir. The marble screen, along with the balustrade which decorates the pulpit, were created by the sculptors Mino da Fiesole, Andrea Bregno and Giovanni Dalmata. A marble mosaic floor of exquisite workmanship describes the processional itinerary up to and beyond the marble screen, to the innermost space, where it offers a surround for the papal throne and the cardinals' seats. Originally the chapel was divided by the screen and the pattern of the floor mosaic into two equal parts - a nave for the laity and a presbytery for the clergy - but resiting of the screen in later years made the nave smaller and the presbytery much larger.

These elements of decoration together created an enchanting Quattrocento interior, both contemplative and spiritual.

You can view some of the frescoes:

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© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.