THE MADONNA DEL PARTO, PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA

The painting of the Madonna del Parto realized by Piero della Francesca, during 7 days only, in the very small Church of Santa Maria a Momentana, secluded among the green hills of Monterchi Arezzo province, is one of his most renowned and admired masterpieces. Still today it attracts in the Valtiberina visitors from all over the world.

Work dating is uncertain, it can oscillate between 1450 and 1475 depending on various theories.  The reasons of the commission are not clear as well as the choice of subject, which in fact, was quite common in the Spanish iconography, but quite unusual in the Italian one. The fresco represents the Virgin pregnant, depicted standing in the middle of a precious damask curtain, showing herself to the faithful, the edges of which are kept open on either side by a pair of angels perfectly symmetrical to each other.

Extremely young, Mary is taken in a regal pose and with great realism. The pure contours of the face are highlighted by a thin line but with sharp details. This is the face of a beauty that is unparalleled in the history of art: knows how to unite the absolute naturalness of a simple girl from the countryside to something regal. Her condition is underlined by the vest which is slightly open on her bloated belly and the natural gestures (common in every pregnant woman) with which rests a hand on her stomach, while the other is focused on its side to handle the weight.

The painting originally adorned the back wall of the main altar of the Church of Santa Maria di Momentana (XIII Century). In 1785 the church was destroyed by an earthquake that left standing alone the wall with the fresco. Subsequently the opera was detached from the wall and inserted in the Cemetery Chapel. Since its rediscovery in 1889, at different times of the last Century the fresco’s collocation was repeatedly changed, for conservation reasons and later for restoration. Currently it is located in the Museum of the Madonna del Parto in the town of Monterchi.

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