Madonna del Parto
The Madonna del Parto was one of the first paintings/frescoes which really fascinated me and which I loved. When I first saw it, it was still in a small chapel by the side of the main road from Arezzo to Anghiari. Fred and I were being taken for a drive by our friend Rosanno from San Leolino and his girlfriend Carla. This was the first stop on the way, after which we also made it to Caprese Michelangelo, the birthplace of Michelangelo, high up in the Casentino, before ending up at Locanda Castel di Sorci where we had a most delicious dinner.. and lots and lots of it.
Anyway, back to the small village of Monterchi, rising above a valley planted mainly with tobacco and sunflowers. There was a little dirty looking chapel by the side of the road and an old crone sitting nearby, with the keys. She opened the doorts for us and we were treated to the wonderful sight of this masterpiece, with its wonderful colours and sensitivity on behalf of the expectant mother, flanked by two identical angels.
We had seen, with my Mum and Dad, the frescoes of The Legend of the True Cross in the Bacci Chapel of the San Francesco church in Arezzo, but they were dark and relatively inaccessible and being 14 scenes, were difficult to take in in one go. This Madonna, by contrast, was a simple painting, all on its own in its little chapel, a chapel which used to attract young women wanting to have a baby. It was very easy to like, and through this experience, it was time to better appreciate the True Cross frescoes in Arezzo. Luck would have it that these frescoes remianed inaccessible for many years while being restored... indeed it was over ten years later in 2000 that they were revealed again.
Since then, the Madonna del Parto has also been restored and been moved to her own museum, nearer the centre of Monterchi, away from the main road. Instead of tipping the old crone wfor opening the doors there is now an entrance fee to be paid, but it is all worth it, as the colours have been restored to their former glory and the painting can be viewed in good light at all times of the day.
Other favourite Piero works are The Resurrection of Christ in Piero's home town of Sansepolcro and The Flagellation of Christ in Urbino, which requires a wonderful drive over the Mountains of the Moon to get to. All highly recommended!