ANDREA DEL CASTAGNO
(b. 1423, Castagno, d. 1457, Firenze)
Our Lady of the Assumption with Sts Miniato and Julian1450
Panel, 150 x 158 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
On 20 November 1449 the Rector of the church of San Miniato alle Torri asked Andrea to paint an altarpiece depicting Our Lady of the Assumption with Saints Miniato and Julian, today in Berlin. By April 1450 the altarpiece was finished and the artist began to receive his first payments.
The Virgin is portrayed wrapped in a wide dark cloak, with hard-edged. lines, as she is carried up to heaven on a throne of reddish clouds supported by four flying angels whose carefully calculated poses and gestures offer us a further example of Andrea's ability at depicting angels "in the air," a talent that Vasari praised at great length. The two monumental saints on either side of the Madonna also appear to be floating in a conventional and abstract space. The scene is dominated by the harmonies and contrast of the bright colours.