Assumption of the Virgin (Assunta Passerini)
Andrea d'Agnolo, known as Andrea del Sarto (Firenze 1486 – 1530)
This large altarpiece, almost 4 meters high and 2 meters wide, represents the miracle of the Assumption of the Virgin. The subject illustrates an ancient tradition, according to which Mary, being deprived of original sin, is the only one to be welcomed in heaven with the body and with the soul. A miracle deeply felt in popular devotion, celebrated since the 4th century in the Middle East, but made official only in dogma in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. Adapting the project he had previously developed for the Assunta Panciatichi, also at the Palatine Gallery, Andrea del Sarto proposes the typical iconographic scheme of the Renaissance, in which the scene of the assumption and that of the apostles are depicted together, on two levels. In the group of the apostles, we can identify Saint Nicholas and Saint Margaret, both kneeling, in the foreground. Looking towards the public, the first one wears a pink silk cope and is accompanied by the episcopal mitre, a book and the three golden spheres of the dowry which he gave to three poor young girls (his traditional attributes); Saint Margaret da Cortona is portrayed as a Franciscan tertiary, with a habit and a white veil. The presence of these two saints is explained by the commissioning of the painting: the altarpiece was in fact requested by Margherita Passerini between 1526 and 1528 for the high altar of Santa Maria dei Servi in Cortona. Both the father and the prematurely departed son of Margaret were called Nicholas, whose saint of reference is Saint Nicholas. The altarpiece entered the Gallery in 1639, when one of her heirs sold it to Grand Duke Ferdinando II de' Medici, who assigned it to Pitti Palace.