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Italian artist Francesco Botticini has created a painting that has bewildered scholars for centuries. New research were done on his Assumption of the Virgin in order to clarify long-perpetuated misunderstandings about its authorship, date, original location, and iconography.
The altarpiece, installed in the church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence in 1477, was commissioned by Matteo Palmieri (1406–1475) before his death, and he is portrayed kneeling at the lower left of the painting with his wife, Niccolosa de’ Serragli, at the right.
This exhibition explores the fascinating life of Palmieri, a true Renaissance man who trained in his native Florence as an apothecary, studied philosophy and rhetoric with the leading humanist scholars of the period, wrote histories, biographies and poetry, held top positions in the Florentine government, and developed close friendships with the Medici rulers of Florence.
Palmieri reportedly advised Botticini on the design of this painting, which incorporates a panoramic landscape of Florence in the lower register and an extraordinary dome of Heaven, populated with saints and angels, in the upper.
‘Visions of Paradise’ provides the rare opportunity to view the painting up close, and it will be shown alongside related paintings, drawings, prints, manuscripts, ceramics, and sculpture for the first time.
Crucially, the exhibition addresses centuries of debate surrounding the painting’s misattribution to Sandro Botticelli (a contemporary of Botticini’s), its relationship to Palmieri’s poem ‘Città di Vita’ (City of Life) based on Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, and its condemnation for heresy.