Key to Umbria: Amelia

Maestro dell’ Assunta di Amelia (early 15th century)

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Maestro dell’ Assunta di Amelia in:  Amelia    Spello


Assumption of the Virgin (early 15th century)

The venerated altarpiece is the autograph work of the Maestro dell’ Assunta di Amelia.  It is usually under a cover in the Cappella dell' Assunta, in the left transept of the Duomo, but it is displayed on an altar to the right of the high altar for periods in May and August, when it features in annual processions. 

The panel depicts the Virgin in a mandorla, with angels carrying her to Heaven.  The predella depicts two prophets  flanked by SS Bernard (on the left) and Bonaventure, both of whom championed the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin.

The earliest surviving documentary reference to the panel dates to 1573, when it was in a chapel that belonged to the Moriconi  family.   This suggests that it had been commissioned during the reign of Bishop Andrea Moriconi (1409 - 25).  In 1703, after Amelia had survived the earthquake that devastated much of the surrounding area, the citizens sought papal approval for the coronation of the image of the Virgin, and this was solemnly carried out in 1745. 


Panels from a triptych (early 15th century)

These panels came from a polyptych that was probably originally commissioned for the high altar of Santa Maria Maggiore.  It was dismembered at an unknown time and its panels were then used on individual altars.  This central panel and one of the predella panels were stolen in 1970, but they were fortunately recovered in 1992.  Most of the panels are now in the Pinacoteca Comunale, although the central panel there is replaced by a photograph: the original is in the Cappella dei Canonici, Santa Maria Maggiore.

Following a recent restoration, the side panels and predella panels have been attributed to the Maestro dell’ Assunta di Amelia: 

  1. The side panels depict:

  2. St John the Evangelist and Isaiah, with the Archangel Gabriel above (on the left);

  3. SS John the Baptist and Nicholas of Bari, with the Virgin Annunciate above (on the right).

  4. Their restoration revealed tiny kneeling donors that had been over-painted.

  5. The predella panels depict scenes from the early life of Christ:

  6. the Nativity;

  7. the Adoration of the Magi; and

  8. the Presentation of Christ at the Temple.   

The central panel, which depicts the Madonna and Child enthroned, was presumably also the work of the Maestro dell’ Assunta di Amelia.  However, only the throne seems to be largely original.  The figure of the Madonna and Child was repainted in ca. 1500, a project that has been attributed to Andrea d’ Assisi, l’ Ingegno.   The present frame of the central panel was probably executed at the time of the over-painting.

C. Fratini, “Pittori dell’ Area Ternana”,  
in L. Dominici (Ed.), “Dall' Albornoz all' Eta dei Borgia: Questioni di Cultura Figurativa nell' Umbria Meridionale”, (1990) Terni

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