Not to be confused with these guys.

No, I’m talking about the guy who painted this:

Madonna and Child with Two Angels

I became enamored of this painting when studying Art History the year before I went to Europe for the first time—so enamored, in fact, with all the luscious Italian Renaissance art that I had to go see it in person. I was poor as dirt, but I bent all my will towards saving money to go. I quit Santa Monica College and worked full time for a year before applying to UCLA. My mother was freaked that I wouldn’t finish school, but I knew I would once I got a little traveling out of my system. Ostensibly, I was saving towards the Big U (and I did a little of that), but really I was hellbent on going to Europe. And I went. And then I came back and settled in to working part time to put myself through college. I did earn my BA, much to my mother’s relief.

But, oh! The sights I saw before that. I saw the original of my beloved Lippi and many another wonderful painting at the Uffizi in Florence. And the David at the Academia! Ghiberti’s doors! So much, so much. I was swimming in honey beneath the Tuscan sun.

A few days later I was in Assisi going through the basilica to see the Giotto and Lorenzetti frescoes, back before the basilica and the frescoes got ruined in an earthquake. I was going through the Upper Church and there was an open door leading to a outdoor balcony. It was a glorious, sunny fall day and this balcony offered staggering views of the rolling Umbrian countryside so I was naturally drawn outside. The monks probably counted on luring the tourists like that on beautiful days because they’d set up a little gift shop out there. I found this and had to have it: