Madonna del Parto Piero della Francesca Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

The Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca is perhaps one of the most revered works by the Italian Renaissance master. Finished, it's thought, around 1460, this beloved masterpiece is housed in the Museo della Madonna Parto of Monterchi, in Tuscany.

It is still unknown who commissioned the fresco, but, painted in the chapel of Santa Maria di Momentana (Saint Mary in the Woods) the work's initial location has, since ancient times, been linked to the pagan cults of fertility. It is also said that, in 1459, Piero returned to the small hilltop town of Monterchi to visit and pay homage to his mother. What's known for certain, however, is that Piero painted over an existing fresco made by an unknown local artist. This hidden piece was discovered in 1911 by the restorer Domenico Fiscali, who'd been commissioned by the Royal Cultural Heritage to remove The Madonna del Parto in an attempt to preserve and restore its then crumbling beauty.

Piero created his vison in seven days, using a range of different colours but predominately a blu oltremare, imported from Afghanistan by the Republic of Venice. The Madonna is depicted as pregnant, standing alone and is reminiscent of the works of other artists of that era, such as Bernardo Daddi, Taddeo Gaddi and Nardo di Cione. The association is that of a pregnant women praying for safe delivery, and can be read as an illusion to the Incarnate World. Other statues or paintings would often depict the Virgin and Child, but Piero's masterpiece represents the devotions over pregnancy, and it is significant that his Madonna wears none of the royal attributes seen in many previous works featuring a similar depiction.

It was only in the 20th century, long after his death, that Piero della Francesca became recognized as a significant contributor to the Italian Renaissance. And though he did not influence many of his peers, the Modernist concerns he presented are thought to have inspired a whole generation of modern painters, including the American artist Philip Guston who said, 'Piero is the ideal painter: he pursued abstraction, some kind of fantastical, metaphysical and perfect organism.'