The two altarpieces were originally meant to decorate the main wall of a chapel and a main altar:
the former was requested by Bartolomeo Panciatichi the Elder, a richer banker who worked in Lyon and wanted to set up a family chapel in the church of Notre-Dame du Confort. However, the altarpiece never reached its destination and was first kept in his son’s house in Florence, before passing into the hands of the Salviati family, and then to the Medici in 1556.
Instead, the latter was commissioned by noblewoman Margherita Passerini for the main altar of the church of the Servite Order in Cortona. It remained there until 1639, the year in which it passed to the Grand Duke Ferdinand and was transported to Florence to enrich the Pitti collections. In the 18th century, both were framed in luxurious carved, gilded wooden ornaments which have survived until today, and from 1819 onwards they were included in the first exhibition of the Palatine Gallery.
In the Passerini Assumption, the painter basically re-proposed the same compositional scheme used a few years earlier in the painting for the Panciatichi, dividing the scene into two levels, the divine space and the human one, but connected by the bare, chipped rock that rises in the background. The apostles gather at the bottom of the painting, having reached Mary’s tomb, now empty. The sudden revelation of that prodigy releases a theatre of emotions that Andrea has captured in a series of unforgettable expressions and gestures, each one unique.