The Polyptych of Mercy by Piero della Francesca

The Polyptych of Mercy by Piero della Francesca

Beautiful artwork at Sansepolcro’s Civic Museum

Via Niccolò Aggiunti, 65

Piero della Francesca was commissioned to create the Polyptych of Benevolence by the company of Sansepolcro in 1445. Today it can be seen in all its glory at Sansepolcro’s Civic Museum (Arezzo).

In the middle there’s the golden image of the majestic and immobile Madonna of Mercy, who welcomes under her mantle, as in a large tabernacle, the community of patrons and the devote, among which a self-portrait of Piero is concealed. Above, the Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary and St. John, painted in their suffering.

Piero della Francesca was supposed to deliver the work within three years, but it took him fifteen years to finish it. The Polyptych of Mercy consists of 23 sections: the feeling of volume and the plasticity of the bodies display Donatello’s influence, while the piece at the top of the polyptych was inspired by Masaccio.

The Madonna is an abstract and symbolic subject. Piero keeps the medieval iconographic details like the gilded background, but also introduces a certain monumental feel and strong perspective of the forms.

An introduction to the historical town at the foot of the Apennines
Legend has it that Sansepolcro’s origins can be traced back to two pilgrim saints, Arcano and Egidio. While returning from the Holy Land, they stopped in this valley and, thanks to a divine sign, they decided to stay and build a small chapel there to host the Holy Relics they’d brought from Jerusalem. HISTORY Between 1300 and 1500, Sansepolcro experienced an age of maximum splendor. ...