Early Renaissance Italian Art: Master of the Osservanza

Analyze the devotional triptych by the Master of the Osservanza, Adoration of the Shepherds with Saints John the Baptist and Bartholomew, executed in circa 1440.
The so-called Master of the Osservanza was one of the most talented Sienese artists of the second quarter of the Quattrocento. In the twentieth century he was identified as the painter of a series of important artworks, including the Osservanza Triptych of 1436, located in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena. Three theories about his identity have been put forth by scholars: Roberto Longhi (1940) claimed he was an independent master who was heavily influenced by Stefano di Giovanni, commonly known as Sassetta; Cesare Brandi (1949) posited that he was actually the young Sano di Pietro, who is poorly documented before 1444; more recently, Cecilia Alessi and Piero Scapecchi (1985) proposed that he was actually the painter Francesco di Bartolomeo Alfei, who was active between 1453 and 1483. Alessandro Angelini (1986) argued that our understanding of the artist is complicated by the fact that his paintings were likely produced in a collaborative workshop called a compagnia, in which two or more masters shared commissions, assistants and materials. Longhis thesis has gained the most acceptance in the last twenty years, especially after the exhibition Painting in Renaissance Siena, 1420-1500, which opened at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in December 1988.
This assignment requires you to read Bruce Coles Sienese Painting in the Age of the Renaissance (1985), pp. 1-72, covering the period from the career of Duccio di Buoninsegna (ca. 1255-1319) through that of Sano di Pietro (1406-1481). Pay special attention to his discussion of the Master of the Osservanza on pp. 60-65. In addition, it is highly recommended that you read Keith Christiansens essay Painting in Renaissance Siena in the exhibition catalog Painting in Renaissance Siena, 1420-1500 (1988), pp. 3-32, as well as the brief introduction to the Master of the Osservanza on pp. 99-100.
Past and present in Sienese painting: 1350-1550, Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 40
(Autumn, 2001), pp. 77-100; and most of A. Lawrence Jenkins introduction to the anthology Renaissance Siena: Art in Context (2005), pp. 1-15.

1) Formally analyze the painting as precisely as possible, addressing its function, composition, iconographic and narrative content, style, color scheme, and possible meanings. What devices does the artist use to connect the viewer to the artwork, both physically and psychologically? 

2) Discuss the paintings formal and iconographic connections to the Sienese artistic traditions of the period before the Black Death. Does the artist make reference to any earlier artworks?  If so, for what reasons?

You are required to cite at least three published (non-internet) sources in support of your essay. In addition to the scholarly works listed above, You are encouraged to cite more than three sources if they contribute to your arguments. Paper must be double spaced and have standard one-inch margins, page numbers (beginning with the first page of the main text), and a title page  All text must be in twelve-point font, preferably New Times Roman. There should be no extra spaces between paragraphs, and all paragraphs should be properly indented; any textual citations of at least three sentences must be set in block quotes with single spacing. Moreover, there should be a bibliography of cited works on a separate page at the end of the paper, followed by pages with any additional illustrations. Your essay should be well organized and completely free of grammar and spelling errors.
You will find ten photos of the assigned painting posted. If you wish to use your own images as well, they must be appended to the end of your paper and given titles.
For all questions pertaining to grammar, syntax, footnoting and style, see the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.

IMPORTANT: Any excerpt, quotation, description, idea, thought or concept that belongs to another personwhether from a book, article, the Internetmust be correctly documented
(including the page number). 
Christiansen, Keith, Painting in Renaissance Siena, in Keith Christiansen, Laurence B. Kanter, and Carl Brandon Strehlke, Painting in Renaissance Siena, 1420-1500 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988), 3-32.
Cole, Bruce, Sienese Painting in the Age of the Renaissance (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1985).
David, Benjamin, Past and present in Sienese painting: 1350-1550, Anthropology and Aesthetics 40 (Autumn, 2001), 77-100.
Dini, Giuletta Chelazzi, Sienese Painting from 1250 to 1450, in Dini, Giuletta Chelazzi, Alessandra Angelini and Bernardina Sani, trans., Sienese Painting: From Duccio to the Birth of the Baroque (London: Thames and Husdon, 1998), 9-261.
Jenkins, A. Lawrence, Introduction.  Renaissance Siena, the State of Research, in A. Lawrence Jenkins, ed., Renaissance Siena: Art in Context (Kirksville, Mo.: Truman State University Press, 2005), 1-20.

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