Artist: Ambrogio Bergognone
Medium: Oil and gold on wood
Size: 242.3 x 108 cm
Date: c. 1510
Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The Assumption of Mary is a belief held by many Christians that the Virgin Mary, at the end of her life, was physically taken up into heaven. The earliest known narrative is the so-called Liber Requiei Mariae (The Book of Mary's Repose), a narrative which survives intact only in an Ethiopic translation. Probably composed by the 4th century, this early Christian apocryphal narrative may be as early as the 3rd century. The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma that Mary, "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." Pope John Paul II quoted John 14:3 as a scriptural basis for understanding the dogma. In this verse, Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Supper, “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." According to Catholic theology, Mary is the pledge of the fulfillment of Christ's promise.
This picture, which dates from the early sixteenth century, was likely Bergognone's first treatment of this subject, and was the center panel of a large polyptych. Its delicacy is typical of his work, and there is the influence of Leonardo's facial types. The metal stars on the Virgin's mantle and the gold spandrels are later additions while the gilding on the lettering on the haloes is almost entirely gone.
Ambrogio Borgognone, variously known as Ambrogio da Fossano, Ambrogio di Stefano da Fossano, Ambrogio Stefani da Fossano or as il Bergognone (c. 1470s – 1523/1524), was an Italian Renaissance painter of the Milanese school. While he was nearly contemporary with Leonardo da Vinci, he painted in a style more akin to the pre-Renaissance, Lombard art of Vincenzo Foppa and Bernardino Zenale. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. His fame is principally associated with his work at the Certosa di Pavia complex, composed of the church and convent of the Carthusians.