Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels

Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels
1460–70
Oil (and tempera?) on poplar panel; transferred to fabric on panel
42 2/5 x 30 9/10 in. (107.7 x 67.8 cm)
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown

The enthroned Virgin Mary tenderly embraces her son. Christ reaches for a rose, a symbol of his future suffering. The repeating motif of carved rosettes below Mary’s throne recalls this delicate blossom, memorializing its message in stone. Four angels surround the mother and child, demarcating the interior as a sacred place and amplifying the illusion of space. To contain all six monumental figures, Piero designed a radically compressed composition in an innovative rectangular format, probably the first in Borgo San Sepolcro. This altarpiece was intended for a church or a private residence.