Brera Madona

The Brera Madonna is a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Piero della Francesca.

The work represents a 'sacra conversazione', with the Virgin enthroned and the sleeping Child in the middle, surrounded by a host of angels and saints.

The apse ends with a shell semi-dome from which a ostrich egg is hanging. The shell was a symbol of the new Venus, Mary (in fact it is perpendicular to her head) and of eternal beauty; in fact, differently from the Greek goddess, Mary's beauty will remain eternal in the Kingdom of God. According to another hypothesis, the egg would be a pearl, and the shell would refer to the miracle of the Immaculate conception (the shell generates the pearl without any male intervention). The egg is generally considered a symbol of the Creation and, in particular, to Guidobaldo's birth; the ostrich was also one of the heraldic symbols of the Montefeltro family.

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