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The Assumption of the Virgin

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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Heaven and earth are united in this vast, dramatic scene. A dome-shaped vault has opened up in the sky to reveal Christ blessing the Virgin Mary. She kneels before him, her hands together in prayer. They are surrounded by ranks of neatly ordered angelic beings, saints and Old Testament figures: the ageing couple beneath the Virgin are Adam and Eve, ancestors of the human race according to the Bible, wearing camel-skin robes. The Virgin has ascended after death to join this place full of clouds and golden light. Her empty tomb below has filled with lilies, to the amazement of the apostles who gather around it. The image is based upon a poem by the Florentine apothecary, writer and politician Matteo Palmieri, who is shown kneeling to the left of the tomb, opposite his wife Niccolosa.

The National Gallery, London



The Assumption of the Virgin


probably about 1475-6


Tempera on wood


H 228.6 x W 377.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1882

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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