The Museum of the Madonna del Parto, just outside the walls of the village of Monterchi, is a museum for a single work, Piero della Francesca’s masterpiece, probably painted in the mid-15th century for the small Church of Momentana, now a cemetery chapel.
It depicts the visibly pregnant Virgin with her hand on her stomach in a gesture of great naturalness that blends with the majesty of the entire composition. The angels open a tent, the tabernaculum that contains Mary who, in her turn, is the tabernacle for the body of Christ.
An attractive yet unlikely hypothesis is that it was painted at the death of the painter’s mother who was originally from Monterchi.
Also on display in the museum is the Madonna del Latte, dating from the 14th century, which was found under Piero della Francesca’s fresco.
After the Council of Trent, the altar of the Madonna del Parto was no longer officiated, most likely because the subject was no longer considered appropriate. Thus, the masterpiece was only rediscovered in the late 19th century.