(b. 1416, Borgo San Sepolcro, d. 1492, Borgo San Sepolcro)

Madonna and Child Attended by Angels

Oil on panel, transferred to fabric on panel, 108 x 78 cm
The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown

The Virgin's throne is placed under the open sky in a courtyard. This spatial arrangement was also used by Fra Angelico and his followers. The represented building with its decorative ornament has unusual iconographical and formal aspects if we compare it with buildings existing in the period.

The Virgin Mary and Jesus are attended by angels, whose wings are partly visible. The angel in red directs our attention to the infant reaching for a flower offered by his mother, an interaction which may symbolize divine love or allude to Jesus's fate. The angel in white casts a shadow across the base of Mary's throne, suggesting the painting originally hung to the right of a window.

Piero was an influential artist and mathematician particularly interested in perspective and in Greco-Roman antiquity. In this enigmatic painting, the figures seem three-dimensional, like marble statues, and occupy a space inspired by classical architecture.

Piero executed this painting for the Gherardi family. Members of this family were rich merchants in Sansepolcro in the fifteenth century.