Assumption of Mary was painted by Lorenzo Luzzo (Zadar or Feltre, 1484/1485 - Venice or Zadar, 1526/1527), called Zarot(t)(o) (from Zadar) and Morto da Feltre. His art was influenced by other artists such as Titian, Raphael, Sebastian del Piombo and Giorgione. The composition and figural representation on the Assumption of Mary altarpiece from Zadar (first quarter of the 16th century) have obvious similarities with the eponymous altarpiece of the Venetian painter Palma the Elder.
Luzzo's Assumption of Mary altarpiece was painted with tempera on wood (246 x 137.5 cm). Contours of the Renaissance frame moulding are visible on the edges of the painting. The composition is divided into two parts. The apostles, witnesses of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, were painted in the lower part of the painting around the empty marble sarcophagus decorated with a Renaissance garland with rams' heads and an angel's head. A group of angels carries the Virgin to heaven in the upper part of the painting. The painter's signature, Laure(n)tius: Lu(cius) Feltri(nus) fec(it), previously misread and incorrectly attributed to Raphael's pupil Francesco Fattori, is located in the centre of the bottom edge of the painting. Sergio Claut reinterpreted the signature in 1981 and attributed the painting to Lorenzo Luzzo.
The origin of the painting is not entirely clear but it was probably originally located in the church of St Mary in Zadar. The church was demolished in 1570/1571 during the construction of city fortifications, and the artwork was moved to the Benedictine church dedicated to the birth of Mary. Since 1976, the painting has been part of the Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art in Zadar.
The first large-scale conservation of the Assumption of Mary was carried out in 1971 at the Restoration Workshop of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb. Extensive damage to the wood panel was repaired during the conservation, and the back of the painting was reinforced. Wax was used to consolidate the raised preparation and painted layers, as well as the wood panel. As the colour on the retouched areas had become darker over time, it created numerous illegible spots that, together with the layer of darkened varnish, compromised the original beauty and value of the artwork.
Conservation carried out in 2013 began with research, laboratory analysis and X-ray, UV, and IR reflectography imaging. Layers of old darkened varnish and retouching, as well as an extremely thick layer of wax, were all removed. Consolidation of unstable painted layers and wood panel holes was performed. Reconstruction of mechanical damage was carried out using different types of preparation that were matched to the surface of the painted layer. Retouching was done in the layer of underpainting with cool gouache colours and finished with lacquer paint. The varnish layers of the original colour, damaged by uncontrolled cleaning during previous interventions and oxidation of pigments, were also reconstructed. New areas of the painted layer were matched to the original, and the conservation was finished with varnish.
Conservation of the Assumption of Mary altarpiece, funded by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, restored the splendour and colour quality to the exceptional example of Venetian Renaissance painting exhibited at the Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art in Zadar.