The oeuvre formerly attributed to Giacomo Pacchiarotto (1474-1540) has recently been identified as the work of Pietro Orioli as a result of analysis of the stylistic and documentary material pertaining to these two artists. L.B. Kanter, in the catalogue of the exhibition Painting in Renaissence Siena (1420-1500), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 20 December 1988 - 19 March 1989, p.335, considers these works formerly attributed to Pacchiarotto and now reassigned to Orioli 'among the most original and influential pictures produced in Siena in the last two decades of the fifteenth century'.
The majority of documentary evidence on Orioli relates to his presence in the lay company of San Girolamo sotto l'Ospedale from 1481 until his death , perhaps from the plague at the age of 36 in 1496 (Coor, 1965, op. cit.) Orioli rose to the position of Prior within this company, whose regulations dictated that its members' art was to be dedicated to the glorification of God and the Virgin. Orioli was praised by the contemporary chronicler Sigismondo Tizio in his Historiatum Senesium for his moral virtue and religious spirit as well as for his excellent qualities as a painter (IV. f. 428: see G. Milanesi, Documenti per la storia dell'arte Senese, 1854, II, p.391). Tizio's account of the elaborate funeral procession and ceremony held in Orioli's honour in 1496 clearly demonstates the high regard in which this artist was held by his peers.
Orioli probably trained with Matteo di Giovanni, however, his interest in architectural structure also reveals a dependance on the style of Francesco di Giorgio and ultimately, with the works now restored to him for the series executed for the Piccolomini, the influence of Luca Signorelli, and the Umbrian artists around Perugino.
Gertrude Coor has identified the present work as being a fragment part of a larger Assumption altarpiece, and positions the picture to the right of the Madonna. Coor began to piece together various fragments cut from the original altarpiece linking them together to the same altar through similarities in subject, form, colour and technique. The pieces now recognised as forming part of the Assumption altarpiece are set against a light blue background sky and have translucent halos of gold dots and employ a rich and varied colour scheme in the garments. There are various other fragments in addition to the present work scattered in private and public collections, for example the Anthony Post collection, London, the El Passo Museum of Art, Texas, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
A related Assumption of the Virgin, was sold by Christie's, New York, 12th January 1996, lot 102, from the John Pope-Hennesey collection.